The Case Against Leaving the City : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I live in the heart of a large city. Within walking distance lie no less than twelve major grocery stores, four of them first-rate, and a labyrithine farmer's market that provides nearly any foodstuff, delicacy, or ware a soul could desire, much of it locally produced. Libraries, cafes, bookstores, Chinese bakeries, pharmacies, pool halls, theaters, dim sum parlors, pizzerias, stationery shops --- whatever one might need or fancy is within easy walking distance. I reckon my chances of "surviving" the rollover exceed those of rural residents or those who live proximate to only one or two grocers. Moreover, in the extremely unlikely event that power goes out, reserves will be directed first to the hospitals, most of which are located, again, in the city. Given a thriving local economy and the residence of over 1,500 millionaires under the age of forty alone, I imagine the city power company will do its utmost to keep the lights on. Power speaks to power.

Y2k preparation conjures up an image of mass consumption. It's yet another occasion for people to willingly spend money or extend debt, perhaps on a grand scale. Even the very instance of isolated financial transaction appears to offer ephemeral gratification to many. Unfortunately, the satisfaction that arises from physical consumption is nearly always temporary. Y2k preparation is further confounded by the emotion of fear. One can literally surround oneself with foodstuffs, water bottles, blankets, generators, guns, matches, canisters of kerosene, etc., and thereby gain an illusive security. Alas, this too is merely temporary. Real security lies outside the material realm. On the scale of city security, I'd rate knowing and trusting one's neighbors above buying a gun.

Well over a year ago, when so little was known about Y2k, and this board was akin to a vast western landscape dotted with a few fascinating theoretical camps, I might have considered the notion of preparation more seriously. Now there's no need, even in this big teeming city. Of course, if I lived in a rural area with unreliable utilities, I might very well prepare. If data shifts considerably for the worse (facts are streaming in, and to have "made up your mind" is probably rash), I'll purchase goods to tide over any "uneventualities." In the meantime, speculation and soothsaying do not alone make a convincing case to prepare. In fact, if anyone can present an original, cohesive argument as to why a city dweller ought to make substantial preparations for Y2k alone (other than those old saws "Even Koskinen says it's just good insurance," "The economy is collapsing! [Michael Camdessus, managing director of the IMF, asserts that the American economy will not suffer even if Wall Street falls by 20-25%]" and the perennial favorite "City folks are violent brutes"), I'd like to read it.

In short, despite what you may have heard from a few internet hotheads, there's no need to abandon the city due to Y2k fears alone. Of course, cities vary greatly --- your city may be a squalid hellhole, which you've long contemplated leaving anyway. But if your city is like mine --- a immense powerhouse of ideas, creative energy, technological innovation, and robust political, commercial, and cultural enterprise --- I wager it'll weather the rollover with flying colors.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 21, 1999


Being an immense powerhouse of ideas, creative energy, technological innovation and a robust political, commercial, and cultural enterprise doesn't guarantee a city will have potable water or that government checks will arrive.

Do research on your own city and on Y2k and then decide whether to stay, have bug-out fallback plans or move. This is a personal decision everyone must make for themselves.

-- I plan to stay but will be ready (to@bug.out), October 21, 1999.

Ok, you can wake up now Dorothy, you are not in the Land of Oz, and you do not really live in the Emerald City. Remember the lions and tigers and bears? ... they're still out there... and maybe even some flying monkeys.

-- @ (@@@.@), October 21, 1999.


Sounds like you live in Seattle :o)

I think that folks leaving the city last year were ones that could or would do it and just needed a push. That part of Y2K is long gone. The simple fact that time has run out on the option of moving means that it is not practical to leave so why bother. IMHO home is where the heart is and that's where folks should be during the roll over. If they are comfortable with the utilities and business and there are friends and family, then they stand a good chance of handing a disruption should it happen.

There is also the issue of towns not doing what is needed or starting to late. What if folks find out or know that their critical utilities or business in their area are at risk? This is a tougher call. There is certianly room for doubt with the information in the 21 City report from the GAO issued in July. The information they recieved was confirmed by the Y2K managers in the Cities mentioned.

Naval Report and the GAO 21 Cities Report

I don't live in a big city but my brother does and he gets y2k but won't leave. His choice, that's where he lives and I would never try and change his mind. At least he is clear about the problems that could occur.

As a person that has spent years in the bush I would never recommend "bugging out" unless you have been there and done that. The most important thing during the winter is a roof over your head :o) One good idea is to rent a RV of some type and keep your bases covered. Not alot of money to spend (off season) for a little peace of mind.

Good luck in the big city Celia

-- Brian (, October 21, 1999.

In fact, if anyone can present an original, cohesive argument as to why a city dweller ought to make substantial preparations for Y2k alone [...], I'd like to read it.

You sound like a wannabe Polly, looking for justification. Well, you won't get it from me. Why on earth do you need something "original"? If you really have been reading this forum for a year and nothing of that has sunk in then here's my prognosis: you're a hopeless case.

As for a "cohesive argument"... well, if the words "you might die" don't carry any weight for you then maybe you've already obtained all you want from life. Here's a slightly modified version of something posted on this forum a few days ago:

We have always relied upon the complex interdependencies of society. They have never failed us in the past. They will, therefore, never fail us in the future. We do not need to prepare for Y2K.

-- Y2KGardener (, October 21, 1999.

Celia works for the Greater London Tourism Bureau, where she writes promotional brochures for the Tower, always emphasizing that despite the horrific deprivations and depravations that took place there, "happiness always lies beyond the material realm." I jest, but do wonder how the evanescent joys of Consumption suggest a City vs. Shire strategy. To me, the hub on which this Compagnolo wheel revolves is Electricity, provision thereof. Without, night will become rather frightening, TO SAY THE LEAST!, and dawn may not bring the happy trucks from the county farms. Without plugs that say bzzzzz, think Sarajevo. Possibly Stalingrad, 1942-43. If the electricity stays on, staying the fearful torchlight, and calming the terrible atavistic potential of man's limbic system, then I see a Y2K impact of (FOUR). Accepting gasoline at $4.40 a gallon (more in Your-up).

-- Spidey (in@jam.amused), October 21, 1999.

Y2K Gardener, we posted simultaneously, but that was a brilliant list: kind of a survivalist credo in reverse. There is no smooth continuum between loss of electricity and global recession. One is catastrophic, the other survivable. And I factor out any possiblility of bioterrorism or nuclear exchange or computer 'terrorism.' These are all bogey-men, concocted from whole cloth by our dear government so as to intimidate the masses. With power on, a famine simply won't occur, and Celia's farmers will get the food through. And the word is 'Campagnolo:' apologies to afficionados.

-- Spidey (in@jam.uh), October 21, 1999.

"Of course, if I lived in a rural area with unreliable utilities, I might very well prepare. "

I live in the country and my utilities are much more reliable than those in the nearby city. We loose power much less than our frieds in the nearest city. Our water is not at risk of being turned off. Our heat is not at risk of being turned off. Even our roads are snow plowed much better than the roads in the city. My wife drives 50 miles each way to the city for work everyday. She has never had to drive thru more than 2 inches of snow, the roads are aways being plowed, including the "cow path" in front of our farm. None of her co-workers living in the city can say the same. Most of their streets never get plowed. If we do not get to the store for several months, we will not starve. If we have not power or no gas, I will not being taking a load of food to the farmer's market in the city. "I reckon my chances of "surviving" the rollover exceed those of rural residents or those who live proximate to only one or two grocers. "

But once the shelves are empty, what good are your stores. Every farm here has tens of thousands of bushels of grain stored. No one here will starve because the store is closed.

"On the scale of city security, I'd rate knowing and trusting one's neighbors above buying a gun." But just how many of your neighbors do you know and for how long have you known them? I know all of my neighbors and my grandfather knew most of their grandfathers. And every one of my neighbors have guns. It would scare me much more if most of them did not have guns. I agree that there is a small risk of loosing power for a month, but I do think there is a real risk of loosing it, be it small. I know I can survive loosing power for a month, can you? Remember, if my rural area looses power, I stop going to the city's farmers market. I will stay home and eat my meals cooked with my eggs, chickens, pork, vegies, milk, butter, cheese, flour, and drink my water from my well all by the light of my oil lamps beside my warm woodstove. If I loose power, you will not be eating any of the food I grow.

PS what is a "dim sum parlor"?

-- chicken farmer (chicken-farmer@, October 21, 1999.


I suggest that you do what you want to do. The US has not had a good cleansing of the gene pool for quite some time, and events like y2k lend opportunity for a society to strengthen itself. I hope all is OK for you and if not, you only have yourself to blame. NO EXCUSES.

-- enough is (, October 21, 1999.


Why do you always have to be such an asshole? Celia has made a decision. Respect her for it, you jerk.

-- (, October 21, 1999.


Look VERY CAREFULLY at each of those stores as you pass, whenever you pass one. I will almost guarantee you that, if it's between 0730 and 1930, you will see at least one truck unloading with perhaps one or more waiting to unload. The average turns in Groceries is somewhere around 120 per year (or every 3 days the complete stock turns over. Again, this is an average aacross the entire stock so, sure you can mark a specific can of Chowder and it migh tbe there for a couple weeks but the rest of the shelf may have turned over daily).

Look at the "farmer's market" carefully. What do the trucks at each of the stalls say? Are they from some farms or do they not mention farms on them. Here in Cleveburgh we have 3 "farmer's markets", and almost all the produce comes from the wholesalers on Woodland between 35th and 55th, the same place the stores get it.

Consider what will happen to your city if there is a shortage of oil or deisel fuel.

i could go on but it is all just as depressing.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, October 21, 1999.

I pulled this off Cory's Listserve. As a former Marin County resident I felt that this posting directly replys to the comments posted here:



Time to jump in!

My wife and I moved to southern Oregon from Marin county, CA via a short year on the western slope of Colorado. Marin county is just north of San Fransico and is the wealthiest, most liberal county in the state. We got so sick of it all that we had to get out.

In the winter of '82, we had a rain storm. For Marin it was like what just happened in NC. Land slides blocked the approaches to the Golden Gate, The San Rafael bridge was closed, and the bridges to the north were flooded out. The only way in or out was by air or boat!

Imagine this.....the finest, wealthiest, best dressed, most political correct emptying out the grocery stores to bare shelves in less than a day. If any of you out there think people will be nice if you have what they want, you had better wake up. That thin, ever so thin, layer of civilization, the veneer of social politeness, will be gone within three days if it all happens at once.

Think of this: The family down the road, husband and wife and their two kids, one baby, two dogs, one cat, and a bird. They make no preperations. In four days they've run out of food and formula. You help! You're a good christian--whatever. Hubby comes back the next day for more. In the mean time, you and yours and family have talked this out and decided that with what you have, you can only help this neighbor for only a few days more and you tell him that.

He tells HIS neighbor who has the food, who tells HIS neighbor....... The next day you have 23 people at your door wanting food for THEIR kids. What are you gonna do????? If people are hurting real bad, good will disappears and so does their morals, ethics, and conscious (sp?)

The stores are empty, the trucks aren't running, the streets are real quiet....sounds like something from Stephen King. It could be even worse.

Stretch Illegitimus Non Carborundum

-- ExCop (, October 21, 1999.

What was it @ had said that was so offensive? Inquiring minds need to know.

-- Spidey (in@jam.what?), October 21, 1999.

Y2k Gardner,,


Kind of reminds me of a be thankful book I read once.

It suggested when you sit down to eat-that you contemplate how many people were involved in the plate of food you are getting ready to eat.

A head of lettuce: Soil,fertilizer,tractors,machinery,packers,trucks,fuel,storage,refrige ,trains,tires,parts,payroll,stores,lights,clerks,cardboard,inspectors, on and on and on infinitum!!

-- David Butts (, October 21, 1999.


Your 'case' really has no basis. You site circumstances at present and extrapolate them into the unknown future. You say that because there are people with money in the city therefore there will be services, etc. You haven't really proved by fact and reason WHY everything should be rosy in the city.

I would suggest that you try again. First go down to all the stores and read the labels on all the prepared food. Make a list of all the raw materials , finished goods and services which EACH and EVERY product uses to find its way onto the store shelves. Now at this point you will need to prove by fact and reason that these lengthy supply chains will NOT be broken, that the JIT systems will work and that the trucks will run and the A/P&A/R's will work, etc.

Proving is what makes a case. You have not yet proved, but you have stated you opinion. In my humble estimation of what you have written here you have no case and no proof.

So get to it. We'd all like to see the plan.

-- ..- (dit@dot.dash), October 21, 1999.

If you've got plenty of Chinese bakeries and pool halls, you don't need banks, electricity, telecommunications or oil refining. If you've got plenty of relatively young people living in your town who have lots of money in the bank, and large stock portfolios, you don't have a thing to worry about. No one will dare disappoint the well-to-do.

"If you live within fifteen minutes of a dim sum parlor, you're wanton."

Not Whistlin' Dixie

-- Not Whistlin' Dixie (, October 21, 1999.


You are an adult. You have made what you feel is the appropriate decision. Neither I nor anyone else here has any right to attempt to change your mind.

I have made a rather different decision. I would not welcome any attempt of yours at this point in time to change my mind.

May the wind blow gently in your face and the road rise always to meet you. May all of your decisions be the right one.

-- mushroom (, October 21, 1999.

Celia, just out of curiosity, did you decide to post this after you saw last night's "Cosby" episode.

"Let the darkness come... La, la, la la"

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), October 21, 1999.

I don't know about anyone else here, but I haven't spent money on Y2K preparations on a grand scale. I live in the country, I live at the end of the power line, and I do not have a generator. I use to live in the city but choose to leave, not because of Y2K, but because I saw the melting pot melting. If I were to ask someone here on the street what dim sum was, they wouldn't have a clue. But who really cares about that, not me.

I don't know what you mean about having supplies on hand that is "false security." Ask someone who survived a snow storm, earthquake or hurricane if they were sorry they had these things on hand. "Real security lies outside the material realm?" Seems to me if you don't have the material supplies to survive, what are your other options? Dim Sum? I suppose if you and your neighbor were in the same boat, you could pull your meager resources and make due for a couple of days, but what are your options when your meager resources run out? Dim Sum?

-- bardou (, October 21, 1999.


" immense powerhouse of ideas, creative energy, technological innovation and a robust political, commercial, and cultural enterprise..."

Apply this to Montreal in January, 1998.


An addition to the list--an acquaintance is raising her daughter to believe that when you want food you go to the phone, then you go to the door.

That said, if all (or even, say, half of) city dwellers moved to the country, "the country" would cease to exist. As Celia says, the alternative is to create community by getting to know your neighbours wherever you are. And not all city dwellers have lost contact with "the old ways."

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 21, 1999.


You said:

>I wager it'll weather the rollover with flying colors.

It's clear you know what the bet is.

Are you sure you understand what the stakes are?


-- Got Beans?

-- Greybear (, October 21, 1999.

You sleep a night~ so your content. I believe if your an adult you are responsible. By all means stay put..........!

-- kevin (, October 21, 1999.

I know who celia thaxter works for....and i dont like what she is doing here....opens your eyes everyone

-- larry (, October 21, 1999.

'We can only conclude that it is too much to ask of us poor twentieth- century humans to think, to believe, to grasp the possibility that the system might fail . . . we cannot grasp the simple and elementary fact that this technology can blow a fuse.' The modern city-dweller cannot permit himself to think that his ability to cope in such a situation is in doubt. If he did so he would be forced to accept the uncertainty of his position, because once the meagre reserves of food and light and warmth have been exhausted, what then?

From Connections by James Burke

-- ExCop (, October 21, 1999.

Sick of,

Not YOU again, man when are you going to find somewhere else to pick a fight? I was trying to be sarcastic you jerk, and it was not my intent to offend Celia. She describes this "large city" as though it is the perfect place to live. To my knowledge I am not aware of a large city that does not have a lot of problems, so I don't think it is wise to assume that all of her neighbors will be friendly when they get hungry. Mind your own business Sicko.

-- @ (@@@.@), October 21, 1999.


I was greatly flattered by your comparing me to Dorothy. Judy Garland is one of my all-time favorite performers. "Live at Carnegie Hall, 1962." Need I say more?


Thanks for your civil reply. You're right, the topic of bugging out of the city was hotter last year. But even last week someone here was exhorting readers to abandon the city, and that along with the discussion about New York looking like Beirut in January of 2000 got me to thinking.

Y2K Gardener,

Your list might be plausible in describing a group of automatons, but not complex human beings. For example, I purchase and cook whole fish and potatoes, haven't used a cash machine in months, rarely use a credit card, am not enrolled in a pension plan, do not watch television, avoid drive-through eateries, and do not employ books as decorative elements.


Actually, I'd jump at the chance to write promotional copy for the Greater London Tourism Bureau. By the way, have you ever considered moonlighting as a sci-fi writer?

chicken farmer,

Sounds like you have a good thing going there. I greatly admire the self-reliance you describe.

Regarding your question, in a dim sum parlor one sits at a table and selects individual portions of Chinese cuisine from trays that circulate throughout the room. Dim sum is typically served on weekends from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


If there was a shortage of oil or diesel fuel, wouldn't it be rationed? And wouldn't trucks delivering food receive top priority for rationed fuel?

By the way, I think you do a great job as moderator. Keep up the good work!


I used the word "case" in its most general sense as "argument." You're right, I cannot prove my argument. Yet I think the redundancies inherent in the city's commerical base and its labor and technical manpower pools bode well for cities in crises.


Actually at any given time I have enough food in my pantry to see me through any minor storm that comes my way. I'm certainly not arguing against preparing if it makes you feel better. I guess I'm more of a fatalist, and think that it's not so much what you have on hand materially that determines how you encounter an unforeseen event, but how you respond to it mentally and emotionally.


What are the stakes?


Actually, I don't work "for" anyone but myself. My work is disappointingly mundane. I'll give you a hint: blue pencil.


I accept the uncertainly of my position. I could die today or tomorrow. This city could be devastated by an earthquake or a nuclear bomb. That's the uncertainly of modern life. If I thought about it too much, I wouldn't be able to work. And if "technology blows a fuse," I have faith in my ability to cope.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 21, 1999.

Thanks Celia!

Then I guess you understand I was only toying with you, and I hope everythings works out in the big city... sounds like a great place. Please do keep your eye out for those flying monkeys though, ... and the man behind the curtain!

-- @ (@@@.@), October 21, 1999.

Your faith in your ability to cope still doesn't take into consideration the interconnectedness of systems and humans on the planet.

Perhaps being a fatalist is the ultimate Polly protection from the "discomforts" of grasping Y2K in advance.

Good luck to you, beacuse, ultimately, that is what you are counting on.

-- Sara Nealy (, October 21, 1999.

Perhaps being a fatalist is the ultimate Polly protection from the "discomforts" of grasping Y2K in advance.

I like this, Sara. Whatta bullseye.

Hey, Celia, you are one sharp chick. I can never tell if you are in bed with the disruptive pollies or operate entirely independently.

-- lisa (, October 21, 1999.


From your above post it can certainly be stated that you truly do not understand the Y2K issue. The mere fact that the 12 grocery stores within walking distance of your residence are in buisness demonstrates the high demand in your area for their goods and services. All these stores are resupplied by a JIT delivery system. If there is a failure of this system you will be living next to 12 EMPTY grocery stores within a day or less. I make several trips to a major grocery store every week, often at night. What I can tell you by eyewitness account is that EVERY night I go there the selves are being restocked! So, once again if there is a breakdown in the supply chain, shortages will appear almost immediately.

If your municipal water suplier has missed, or better yet did not know about, a date sensitive embedded chip that keeps potable water flowing through your faucet you may find that your neighborhood is without water for DAYS (while they try to find the chip). Within HOURS your 12 grocery stores would be devoid of all liquids! WITHOUT WATER YOU WILL CEASE TO EXSIST IN THREE DAYS!

Even if there are no food or water shortages, if there is a Y2K problem with your bank (or credit card company) and your money is tied up how will you buy the food and water you will need. Can you barter with the dim sum palor?

How long do you think it will be before your "freindly" neihgbors start to lose thier civility in a time of serious shortages and crisis? Not long at all. Not to mention that those who are suffering in less well to do areas may decide to come over and see just whats in the cabinets of those 1,500 millonaires homes.

And all of the above is with THE POWER ON !!!

You may not want to leave the city, but should at least do some sort of preparation. You don't want to wake up on Jan 1st with nothing but a half eaten carton of chineese and 1/4 a bottle of evian in the fridge. If you do, remember - you brought it on yourself.

P.S. Y2K is not about money! If critical infrastucture fails, I agree there will be political fallout afterwards. However during the failure ALL THE UNPREPARED WILL SUFFER EQUALLY. It is reasoning like yours that has helped to put us in the situation we are facing today. Y2K can not be legislated away, postponed or "paid off"!

-- Kevlar (, October 21, 1999.

Celia: While I was writing my response to your post, you posted that you did have some preps. Even if they are for a "minor storm" this is prudent. Better than nothing. Sorry if my post seemed a little harsh. From your most recent post I would conclude that you "get it" a bit more than your intial post revealed. Thought you were a little too Pollyish at first.

Best of Luck!

-- Kevlar (, October 21, 1999.

In case anyone has lost track, it's barely a little more than two months until 1/1/2000. Except under the most drastic of circumstances, I doubt that anyone is going to be re-locating from anyplace to anywhere. Not saying it can't be done, of course it can, but it would take a marathon effort to say the least.

I sure would advise people who live in the city to at least consider whatever options you may still have available to you. A relative who lives on a farm someplace, perhaps. Or someplace safe to go if you had to, real fast. And to definitely start the New Year there, in any case.

I grew up and lived around Northern Virginia, right next to Washington, D.C. Except for a stint in the service, that is where I always lived, and was quite content there. But I figured that that was the last place to be if Y2K turns out to be as bad as I believe that it could be, hence my re-location to Nortwest Arkansas last Spring.

You pays you money and you takes you chances.

71 days.


-- Jack (jsprat@eld.~net), October 21, 1999.

Good luck to you Celia, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for expressing your view point so civilly, it clarifies for me the mentality of some I consider very intelligent, but DGI. You seem to GI at some level, but you also appear to me as someone who overestimates her ability to cope, or perhaps as you say, you're simply a fatalist and have given up to your fate which is evidenced by your refusal to leave the city.

I respect your decision, but I disagree with it completely. On the other hand, every city dwellers simply can't all flee the cities, and here is the crux of the dilema on this thread.

-- (, October 21, 1999.

Pollies, Lord love 'em!

"If there was a shortage of oil or diesel fuel wouldn't it be rationed? And wouldn't trucks delivering food recieve top priority for rrsationed fuel?"

Ummm, doesn't food have to be grown and in most cases, processed before it can be delevered to the consumer? Wouldn't the first links (and their prerquisites) in the modern food chain require fuel before the final link is given top fuel priority?

Hint: during the Arab oil embargo of 1974, after the military, US farmers were the highest priority for fuel access. Truckers and city residents were in line with everyone else.


-- Wildweasel (, October 21, 1999.

This initial post was SO very well done. I should have extended my compliments instead of calling her a dead woman typing. Alas, I did not.

I can't believe that only a few of you took her down and only a couple of you caught on to her. Good for you, larry and lisa.

Gosh, I hope my young DGI relatives in cities read her piece, don't you?

-- Solange (, October 21, 1999.

Celia, many posters have already written enough about the blind faith of staying in the city, so I won't respond to that part. I will say however, that city dwellers are ALL SLAVES. You are controlled everywhere and in everything you do. Country living offers a measure of freedom not found anywhere else. We have choices that no city dweller can even imagine. When the cookie crumbles, a city dweller is at the mercy or ignorance or incompetence of the city managers, even the shop keepers have control over the people. Everyone in the city is "managed" by everyone that has even the slightest measure of power and authority. Not so for the country dweller.

If the system fails here, we have multiple choices to continue our lifestyle in relative peace and safety. I will also comment that you don't REALLY know you neighbors like you think you do. When crisis comes, they will come apart at the seams. Look at the L.A. riots for example. People were just waiting for a reason.

Hungry desperate people do desperate things. Country folks have been living off the land most of their lives and know how to cope with emergencies every day. We are not dependent on the system to sustain us or provide our living. Furthermore, we live a life of greater freedom and liberty then you might imagine.

You can keep you technology, your art centers, your musuems and your culture. It's all based on greed and deception anyway and I don't want any part of it.

-- Freedom (, October 21, 1999.

Gee, to read some of your posts you'd think I was already buried in a cemetery, "She failed to heed our warnings" inscribed on my tombstone. Ye gods.


I'm not really relying on luck, as you put it. Let's say a snowstorm made driving impossible, and the lights AND the gas went out (highly unlikely, but just for the sake of argument). I could simply trudge over to my friend's apartment and spend the evening by his fireplace. He's got plenty of wood. And no, he won't bar the door to me.


Thanks for your comment. I "operate" independently.


Your post assumes that all 12 grocery stores are running on the same schedule. By the way, I left out the myriad tiny food stalls, corner shops, and grocers who operate in Chinatown, another easy distance from my house. The local Vietnamese tofu shop will still be selling fresh fried bean curd laced with onion and carrot from their little corner operation. Local bakers will still be baking bread. I'm not worried about food shortages.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet uncovered any date- sensitive chips that would disrupt our local water supply. I'm not worried about access to cash. When I spoke of neighbors, I meant my actual physical neighbor, but I also have several close friends within walking distance. My cabinets are open to them, as you put it. Finally, the goods in my larder are not preps, per se, just what happens to be around at any given time.


Thanks for the tip, but I'm planning on spending New Year's Eve in the city. I hope Arkansas is working out for you.


Did the oil embargo of '74 result in American deaths or starvation?


I appreciate your generous compliment on my post. I hate to disappoint you, but I can guarantee I'll actually be alive next year. Though a dead woman typing is an arresting image. It might work in a gothic genre. Speaking of gothic, people like you make my blood go cold.


I am not a "slave," and my friends and I will not be "hungry and desperate" next year. Moreover, I have freedoms country living simply cannot supply. Peoples' key needs differ. Mine entail being close to decent research libraries and having the opportunity to do the work I love for pay. Such work cannot be had in the country. I am not "managed" by anyone but myself. I'd call that freedom.

As for the arts being based on "greed and deception," on the contrary, one of the few noble things in life is to create, to make something new. But I guess we look at that a bit differently.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 22, 1999.

Celia: Do you like to mudwrestle?

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), October 22, 1999.

Celia, As WW indicated, the farmers will get the first crack at the fuel. if you look carefully at the stores, both large and small, you will see that they are being resupplied over night. All of those small Chinese shops get daily deliveries of vegies, or go to a market or warehouse ON A DAILY BASIS to get the foods they prepare and sell.

The whole food industry has figured out (much to our future dismay) that the most economical method of supplying their goods to the public is to have only enough inventory on hand to complete today and MAYBE half of tomorrow's sales.

To use another example, EVERY DAY a truck drops SOMETHING off at McDonalds, whether it is beef paties or orange juice or greakfast makings etc, it doesn't matter. If today's trucks don't pull up to the dock, McDonalds has something it won't be able to sell tomorrow.

And, no the oil embargo did NOT DIRECTLY cause any deaths I am aware of, but it was only a 4% shortfall. the GOOD extimatres are of a 25 to 30% shortfall if we are reasonably fortunate. THIS is a couple orders of magnitude greater difficulty.

Later, Ma'am, my morning nap calls. Chuck

-- Chuck, a night driver (, October 22, 1999.


Chuck's post nicely sums up the supply situation. I would just add that most of the small food markets and "stalls", as you put it, are probably the most vunerable to a Y2K disruption. A very large portion of small buisnesses have taken little or no action to address the Y2K issue. The food supply system at this level is even a greater concern than that of some of the larger food chains.

Also you are correct. Your municipal water supplier may not have found any date sensitive chips "yet". They may not know they exisit until Jan 1, 2000. Have they really done their homework? You are putting A LOT of trust in these peoples hands.

-- Kevlar (, October 22, 1999.


Wait until the power's been off for a week and your friend's wood has all been burned in his fireplace.

Research libraries are wonderful, but they don't work very well these days without electricity.

Cities can be nice places to be, but if you live in an apartment building on the 24th floor and the power goes out, you might not be very comfortable there.

-- nothere nothere (, October 22, 1999.

With a name like yours, you will do fine. It is unusual to find even one "magic letter" in a name, and you have two. The odds of that are (5 to 1) squared, or 25 to 1. Your groundedness will serve you well into the rollover and beyond.

By the way, if you are currently single, if you marry, don't drop the last name, Hyphenate it!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 22, 1999.

I knew it was San Francisco at the top. Pity. I met some nice people there...never came across one so insufferably superior. And you let her get away with it.

Many of you have been so polite to this woman, I can hardly believe I'm on the right forum. You bow and scrape, warn her kindly (or not) drool over the upper-crust image she created and even the name. Well, are we going to elect her Queen now?

If this dangerous polly with an agenda had misspelled a few words or demonstrated any human foibles at all, you would have torn her apart. Que sera.

-- Solange (, October 23, 1999.

Sorry, Solange, but her name contains two of four "magic letters."

That is why she is probably the "upper crust" success that you perceive her to be. I didn't invent the concept, I just verified it and have been applying it ever since. Be VERY careful what you name children!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 23, 1999.

For someone who wields a blue pencil, Celia should have known better than to use "*The* Case Against Leaving *the* City." It is, more properly, "*A* Case Against Leaving *My* City." And only an elitist could write it.

-- Some of (my pencils are@blue.too), October 23, 1999.

To those who responded, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the knowledge and experience. And I especially appreciate the civil tone of the responses. Thanks again.

Now, on to the invertebrates:

Solange, people generally respond civilly to civil posts. You, not I, expose a "dangerous agenda": to "take me down" (to borrow your indignant phrasing). You were even so sick-minded as to predict my death.

I imagine that in your greasy book writers and editors are criminals, petty thugs who threaten your flimsy self-righteousness. You can exhort "regulars" all you want, Solange, but petty overtures from twisted hearts are rarely heeded. And your attacks will not erase the fact that this thread was, all in all, civil, generous, and interesting. Unlike you.

"Some of",

I'm afraid you are quite mistaken. In composing titles writers often employ the definite article for its rhetorical effect. If I had titled my post as you foolishly suggested, readers couldn't have known the identity of "my" city, much less whether they resided there. They would have assumed the argument, which used the personal to illustrate the general, was addressed to residents of only one city, and not to city dwellers in general.

Now run along back to your drawing board and try to hatch another feeble attack.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 23, 1999.

Celia, you say your post is addressed to those who dwell in any city as opposed to those who dwell in a particular city (people like you who dwell in a city like yours). Why, then, do you write, "Of course, cities vary greatly --- your city may be a squalid hellhole, which you've long contemplated leaving anyway. But if your city is like mine... I wager it'll weather the rollover with flying colors." Those two sentences seem to indicate that you are talking about why people should stay in a city *like yours*. Therefore, I agree with Some.

-- Francesca (--@--.--), October 23, 1999.

If Celia does in fact live in the heart of San Francisco, there's only 3 ways in and 3 ways out of that city. During the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Bay Bridge was taken down for a few weeks. If martial law is put into effect, I am sure the authorities will lock down all three exits to the city--no one in and no one out except to bring supplies in, if there are any supplies to bring in. The military bases have been shut down in the area, so there will be a lack of available personnel in case of civil unrest. If there is civil unrest and ships are able to bring in imports, what longshoreman will be on the docks to unload and will pilots be on duty to bring the ships in? If people want to remain in the city and take their chances of a BITR then go for it, but be prepared for people to panic and no one will be there to control it. I use to live in San Francisco during the late 60's and witnessed what civil unrest was all about. I witnessed many antiwar marches and saw police brutality first hand, I moved from there shortly after that experience. There's areas of the city that even the police don't go into and ITSHTF, there's is no doubt in my mind that in a matter of a couple hours, downtown San Francisco will be looted and property destroyed. One last note, "technological innovation" is what got us into this mess.

-- bardou (, October 23, 1999.

Dear Celia,

Having lived in Los Angeles thru both the King riots and the earthquake what you may not have considered is panic. During both of these periods I saw panic by intelligent, middle class people in the neighborhood that I lived in. During the riots the stores in my area were emptied, not by the poor uneducated, but by the educated middle class. Having lived in that area for awhile I had gotten to know the manager of my closest local supermarket. He said he couldn't believe how quickly his store was cleaned out. Neither of us could believe the level of panic in an area over 20 miles from the riots. Why people would believe that the supply lines would be cut off is, to this day, a mystery.

Tho you may believe that there is sufficient supply around you, all it will take is one panic, resonable or not, to empty the shelves. Tho your choice to stay in the city is your own, stocking up will at least make you not part of the problem when things do go awry.

-- Stacia (, October 23, 1999.


Wow, queenie, I stand properly chastised. However (small point), I wasn't speaking to you; just addressing some lack of consistency around here.

It happens that I like writers and editors enough not to reconsider, even though you seem to place yourself in that group. (?) I do like your "greasy book".... that's good. Imaginative. You might want to take another look at the definition of "self-righteous", however, and apply it to yourself as long as you're being generous with the term. Sorry to disagree with perfection, but there is a difference in the concepts of "predict" and "warn", as you should know. You are becoming boring, dear. Got what you wanted, though, didn't you? Congrats.

K. Stevens,

You've piqued my curiosity! What two of what four "magic letters"? I never heard this, and it sounds interesting. In case you check back here, care to elaborate?

-- Solange (, October 23, 1999.

People in large groups, working together, can accomplish incredible things. Cities with large concentrations of population have a lot of advantages in that regard, although with the internet, some things no longer require physical proximity like they once did.

But it seems to me that people in large groups, if they are not working together, are able to be much more destructive than people in small groups not working together. At least the small groups are easier to stop from a grass-roots level of resistance.

I grew up in large cities and am living now in a small rural town (not because of Y2K--family reasons). I've seen how people change under stress (the kind where some of their actual needs are not being met). So I think that the only thing preventing anarchy, when people don't control themselves under stress, is harsh and oppressive outside control.

Any major disruption becomes a litmus test of the "nation's character", if there is such a thing. And we won't know till the time comes (if ever) the type of character "we the people" really have at this point in history. If we collectively have bad character, I think we will lose our freedom, since removing our freedom will be neccesary to regain control and forestall destruction of what remains.

The question is, do you think most city dwellers in highly populated areas will remain civil under stress? What does anonymity do to driving habits, manners, etc., now? Anonymity is something you don't have in areas with lower population, where the community is made up of fewer people. Accountability for one's actions is a great restraint, though not a perfect one.

I think of the disadvantages/advantages of highly concentrated population as something like the French Revolution versus the Industrial/Scientific Revolution. The element determining which of these happens is the net effect of the individual choices made, either to be self-sacrificing and care about others as you do about yourself, or to be self-centered, and to use people to meet your own needs to the exclusion of their needs.

How selfless are people now? How much do they give others out of the goodness of their hearts? What restrains them from violating the law, the common restraints everyone is supposed to follow? Is pleasure-seeking their god?

In Iraq during the Gulf ground war, I saw that those who did their jobs right during peacetime exercises didn't panic, because they did their jobs out of habit when under stress. Those who cut corners or slacked normally, in every case I saw, panicked during the crisis, and might as well not have been there at all. What you do in your times of "practice" is truly what you will do in times of "the real thing."

-- S. Kohl (, October 23, 1999.

Excellent posts, ladies! (And gentlemen.)

In response:


The sentence you quote was meant as an exception, an aside. I'd like to think that there are thousands of people who love their cities as much as I love mine. But obviously, a few American cities exhibit quite distressing poverty, infrastructure weaknesses, and economic stagnation. Many American cities underwent a renaissance in the 90s, however, and I think my post can apply to any city dweller who recognizes key similarities: size, variety, redundancy, vitality, etc.


I don't expect Y2k disruptions will escalate into physical violence, so I'm not concerned about egress from the city.

You're right: technological innovation is what got us into this mess. Still, I find the technological revolution fascinating and am grateful it exists. It allows me, for example, to work from home, and to engage in interesting discourse such as this. There are some, like Terrence McKenna, who envision technology (artificial intelligence in particular) shortly outpacing and eventually extinguishing by supersedence human ingenuity altogether. I have a friend who maintains computers can compose better Bach-like music than the person at the university. These scenarios seem implausible to me, but all the same, I find the frontier incredibly exciting.


I make my living writing and editing, so yes, I place myself in that group. And you didn't exactly "warn" me of death, you called me a "dead woman typing." As I mentioned, an arresting image. By the way, have you ever considered penning horror stories?

S. Kohl,

Speaking of what anonymity does to manners, look at some of the posts to this board! Anyway, you pose some interesting questions.

To answer your basic question, do I think most city dwellers will remain civil under stress? My knowledge of crowd psychology is too limited to predict with any accuracy how a modern urban population might respond to stress. But recent national disasters illustrate again and again how communities pull together in times of crisis. That's why something like Y2k doesn't much phase me. There's something about mutual human suffering that brings people closer, not farther apart.

Crowds are composed of individuals. And the real test of any individual is how they manage oneself. Every individual must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances of Y2k, but you can change how you respond to it. That's something you have total control over.

I guess I must have faith in crowds in general: I plan to be on the streets on November 30 when thousands of people mass to protest the WTO's trade policies. I don't understand the complexities of the WTO or its detractors, yet I wouldn't miss the occasion for the world. Call it a kind of civic pride. Yes, the police department has ordered extra riot gear, and it could escalate into outright violence because of the high emotions at play. All the same, the chance to observe and live the action and the history far outweighs any concern for personal safety.

You could look at Y2k similarly: the chance to be a part of the solution can outweigh concerns for personal safety. I hope that's what most of us will choose.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 23, 1999.

Oh Stacia,

I meant to mention, I think panic is actually plausible, though I don't necessarily see that escalating into violence. I could see fear of shortages as a real possibility even if shortages don't exist, as you pointed out.

Thanks for the interesting input!

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 23, 1999.


There are four (and only four) "magical letters" all consonants, that have a VERY strong correlation with what is commonly called success. Fewer than 20% of the population has even one, yet if you examine the Boards of Directors of major institutions, those letters appear at least once in 80% of those people.

The name Celia Thaxter contains two such letters, and I have shared with her those two, as well as a third in an e-mail. The e-mail also contains sufficient additional information so that she can figure out the fourth letter.

I'm not going to broadcast the four letters, but I will tell you that the last seven years of political life has been almost a textbook on the system's operation

William Jefferson Clinton also has two "magical letters" in his name...his enemies, Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Bob Dole, and Ken Starr?? HAVE NONE!!!

Celia Thaxter is very fortunate. She is giving you a good suggestion about horror have a way with imagery.

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 23, 1999.

Yes, I have great faith in crowds too, especially after a major league football, basketball, or baseball team wins the pennant.

-- bardou (, October 23, 1999.


Sorry I asked. Didn't realize it was secretive new age garbage, and the C is the only common denominator anyway. Too bad, not interesting after all. Name the imagery I have a way with. Identify the good suggestion. Show you are not brainwashed by the queen of hearts you worship. Remember The Manchurian Candidate? No. You are most likely too young. Pity.

Excellent, Celia. Presumably your mission was accomplished.

-- Solange (, October 23, 1999.

K Stevens,

Am I missing something here? Celia Thaxter has only one magic letter-- the X.

Celia, don't listen to Bardou about this; there are many, many ways to leave San Francisco. Bardou must be thinking only of 101 north and south, and the Bay Bridge, I guess. What about hwy 1, the skyline hwy, or whatever they call the ridge highway down to Menlo Park, BART, the ferries, and all the back roads heading south?


-- Al K. Lloyd (, October 23, 1999.

I couldn't find where Celia said she lives in San Francisco. I get the impression she's describing Seattle.

-- Where (, October 23, 1999.

Al, I misspoke. Gingrich does have a "C" in in it and that makes Celia have two of the four...C and X.

And Gingrich provided the only (moderately) effective opposition to William Jefferson Clinton, who has an additional "magical or Power" letter in his name. ALL the other opposition leaders..Trent Lott, the Speaker of the House, etc, etc, etc. do not have a single letter among them. No wonder Clinton bestrides tne political scene like a Collosus! Without getting into the politics, only the Power...that is reality.

The really interesting thing is that neither Al Gore, nor George W. Bush, nor Bill Bradley have any Power letters either. And you will notice that except for Dubya's bank account, nobody seems very enthused by any of them. There is no real emotional connection...they leave people flat.

Year 2000 politics isn't over, not by a long shot!!

Solange, if that is your real name, you don't have a letter either. New Age, Schmoo Age, it doesn't really matter. It is like Pareto's 20 - 80 observation...Less than 20% of the population has a chance to make it to the 80% top. Too isn't fair!

But Celia will make it through the Roll VERY sucessfully, thank you. See, people will go out of their way to help her in ways they would NEVER do for you or Al.

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 24, 1999.

Oh! I forgot to add, Celia, just as Clinton, has two Different Power letters...That translates into something like 3% of the population.

As to being smitten by "the queen of hearts", you will note when I first posted on this thread, I knew literally NOTHING about her...not her occupation, nothing of her extraordinary command of the English language, nor her success...I only Knew the composition of her name, to wit "Celia Thaxter."

The imagery Celia keyed in on was your characterization of "dead woman typing" and she has spotted a gift for Horror imagery. You might wish to check it out. There may be room for your literary talents now that Stephen King is in such bad shape after being run down by that impared driver.

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 24, 1999.

"Don't listen Bardou on this?" Go Hwy 1? Yes! That'a a great 2-lane winding Devils Slide route to take! It all leads to 101 - Hwy 1. Travel it when thousands are leaving to go where south? South to where? Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, LA? Tell Me Mr. Lloyd which way is the best? North--Marin, Santa Rosa, Eureka, Oregon - East Scaramento, Reno, South Bakersfield, LA--take your pick.

-- bardou (, October 24, 1999.

JACK: Mission accomplished?

CELIA: I guess so. The usual schtick. Made a few friends. Made a couple enemies.

JACK: Were they "receptive"?

CELIA: Oh, sure. Everyone was pretty polite, all in all. It wasn't like going to the mud wrestling board or anything. Nice folks by and large. Only one or two jerks.

JACK: Who?

CELIA: Well, there was this lady called "Solange" who really had a bone to pick. Very vicious, insecure, attacking.

JACK (leaning head on hand and tapping it with finger): Solange... Solange... The Bird Lady!

CELIA: Bird...? Hey, wait a minute. (consults notes) Yeah. Her email was "birlady."

JACK (leafs quickly through files and produces photo): Did she look like this?

CELIA: How could I know? It's an Internet board!

JACK: Oh. Right. Anyway, Solange is a very bitter lady, Celia. Has a thing for birds. Wants to snuff them out. But only performing birds. Birds that talk, sing, dance, whatever. Theatrical cuties. (Ruffles files and produces another photo) That's Joe Mariani, case number (flips photo over) eleven. Owner and trainer of Pina Menichelli, the famous "Feathered Figurante" who made a little noise on Broadway back in the early eighties. That's the dead Pina in his hands.

CELIA: Yeah... I seem to remember the case...


(Joe Mariani emerges from bathroom wearing a towel wrapped around his head, singing snippet from "Cosi fan tutte" over and over. Approaches enormous gilded bird cage in center of living room.)

JOE: How's my little precious today, huh? Sleep well? (Stops short, his eyes widened in shock) Pina? (Opens cage, reaches inside, and delicately scoops up dead yellow parakeet wearing tiny leather collar inset with rubies) Pina?? (Stares up at ceiling and emits loud wail of pain) My baby's been killed!

(JOE's wife, WANDA, rushes into room.)

WANDA: What is it?

JOE: Pina's dead!


(JOE displays tiny parakeet in his big hands, tears streaming down his face.)

WANDA (pats his shoulder, stunned): There, there. It's going to be all right.

JOE: Pina brought us many a laugh and tear!!

WANDA: That's right.

JOE: Pina knew how to tango AND do the hustle!

WANDA: She was one special lady.

JOE (passionately): What's we do now, Katie? How we gonna make a living?

WANDA: You'll train more birds. Don't think of that now.

JOE (staring with outraged eyes into cage): They took her cane and top-hat too. Bastards!


JACK: The autopsy revealed Pina had been killed by cyanide.

CELIA: Jesus.

JACK: They've been looking for Solange ever since. Can't seem to pin her down. She pops up on these internet boards --- usually out of the blue --- unleashes a little spleen, then disappears.

CELIA: Let me see the photo again. (Examines image of woman sitting in restaurant clasping a notebook tightly against her chest, a newly emptied bottle of cheap Chianti on table.) What's with the notebook?

JACK: The notebook was recovered from another crime scene. Listed all the birds she wanted to get.

CELIA: It looks kind of... greasy.

JACK: It was. Had names of writers and editors she wanted to take down too. Especially editors.

CELIA: Jesus!

JACK: Don't worry, Celia. Take a look at the letters in her name. She's powerless.

CELIA: Not like us.

JACK: Right. Powerless.

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 24, 1999.

Hey that was pretty good Celia! For a second there I almost thought I was reading a Robert Anton Wilson novel. Boy. I'm glad the FNORDS have started appearing, aren't you?

-- a (a@a.a), October 24, 1999.

Celia, that piece is truly amazing...

As I said on this board, you will do well and prosper during the Rollover!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, October 24, 1999.

Yes, excellent...with one glaring exception. I would expect the Queen to notice that there is no d in birlady. That failure threw the whole script off. Insecure? Not really.

Appreciate the vocational guidance. It is some years late and no longer necessary....the vocation and I are well acquainted. The power of editors is grossly overestimated; particularly by themselves. This I learned long ago.

Solange is chosen. Haven't the rest of you become bored with this thread? I have.

-- Solange (, October 24, 1999.

Celia, you must get today's award for responses. I used to live in Center City Philadelphia before I relocated back to California. I loved the city despite all the hassles and problems (pre Ed Rendell, I might add)and thought about moving into San Francisco and commuting south to Silicon Valley.

City dwellers have different challenges, but you know that. I only hope you are in a single family dwelling with some measure of control over storage space, a fireplace, and a safe place for an automobile if you have one. I learned a lot about watchfulness, self reliance, and the importance of neighbors. But I also learned the smooth movement of turning off the light, ducking and calling 911 when there was an altercation on my street or I heard gushots. Y2K will only ascerbate some of the bad things.

Using your head and planning as best you know how applies to all of us. JIT inventory shortages will hit everywhere as will fuel shortages.

Good luck

-- Nancy (, October 24, 1999.

To infect the world with Y2k. To teach people about Feng Shui. To denownts the complecations of computer software. To fix some hardware. Me. I. I do not think Y2k will cause more than a blackout. In a librairy dont shout. Togepi.

-- togepi (, October 25, 1999.

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