Requim for the "iron triangle" argument : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

With just over 30 days left, it seems we can finally pronounce the "iron triangle" Y2K argument dead. Returning from vacation I read Russ Lipton's (Big Dog) discussion of Y2K. It seems Russ supports the prediction Y2K will take months to fully impact the economy. Indeed, the "Big Dog" seal of approval is not easily won. From a leading pessimist (and sysop), this is a powerful endorsement (and kudos to Russ for a nuanced position.)

To revisit, the "iron triangle" argument was all the rage in 1998. The "iron triangle" consists of financial services, core utilities and telecommunications. In 1998, serious pessimists predicted the absolute failure of one or more of these sectors. On rollover, they said, we would face a worldwide power blackout. The telecom system would fail. Banks, bourses and businesses would not open on January 3. The pessimists predicted this "shock" to the system would effectively result in social unrest leading to a general collapse of society... rather quickly. In Internet circles, this became known as "going InfoMagic."

On a side note, some pessimists predicted a pre-rollover crash. As described by Hoffmeister in an early post, these predictions failed to materialize. Even the "Big Dog" estimated a market drop near rollover... I think he suggested a Dow in the mid 8k range. As most readers know, the Dow remains in the high 10k range and gold languishes at under $300 an ounce. Does this prove anything? Probably not, except we may want to bury the pre-rollover crash argument while we have the shovel.

As for the iron triangle argument, there are still devotees, particularly on this forum. Most thoughtful pessimists, however, have become less convinced we will be plunged into darkness at the stroke of midnight. My point in this? It is much harder to make the case for a catastrophic outcome without an iron triangle collapse.

Having power (and time) greatly increases our chances at fixing problems. If Y2K is chronic (rather than acute), it is likely the impacts will be largely economic... my contention for the past 8+ months on this forum. A long, painful year of computer problems will have profound impacts... but it is much harder to suggest we will be forced to dig survival gardens or defend our homes from marauders.

After months of reading this forum, I can say most readers will be relieved to avoid a Y2K meltdown. With the same certainty, I suggest a few will be disappointed. As we move into the first few months of next year, we will doubtlessly argue about the actual impacts of Y2K... via the Internet. With luck, the thoughtful pessimists will remain for what might prove an interesting discussion. And perhaps the Y2K fatalists will realize civilization will plod forward... despite its many flaws. So will most of us.

-- Ken Decker (, November 29, 1999


Mr. Decker,

It's always so refreshing to read something optimistic on this forum. I have been following for over two years now and have gone from a #10 doomer to a #1-2. I believe we will have some interruptions but nothing we can't get through.

All I can say to those who hope for a crash (and there are some here who have expressed that sentiment) is be careful what you wish for.

-- (, November 29, 1999.

In the past,I never thought the iron triangle would actually go down. Lately, the conventional wisdom seems to be that it will be okay. Given the value of conventional wisdom, I'm now beginning to worry. Conventional wisdom that it would fail was based, it seemed to me, on feelings not facts. Ditto the present trend that no major problems will occur. The Nat. bureau of standard warning on embedded chips takes presidence over feelings any day.

-- noone (, November 29, 1999.

Remember Ed Yourdon predicted that the disruptions and outright failures would be taken care of quickly, but that the real impact of Y2K would be a decade of software problems and economic depression, of things working the way they do in third world countries.

The recent experience of Hershey may be a foretaste of that.

-- kermit (, November 29, 1999.

I think the grid will stay up, and that any blackouts that occur will be limited to several days. I expect marines and NG in NYC, DC, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and the usual trouble spots by the end of December.

The rollover will not be the catastrophic event that the pollys and a few of the doomers have stereotyped. However, a week or so after the banks reopen, the public will realize that something squirrelly is going on. This will cause a plunge in consumer and investor confidence, leading to a market crash and bank runs, if these have not already occurred. How bad will it get? Who knows.

Then the oil crunch will kick in, causing further economic havoc or decimation, depending on your level of optimism.

So our iron triangle woes are behind us? If you say so Ken.

-- a (a@a.a), November 29, 1999.

A rational argument that reminds us that the problems go beyond the lights being off or on come January. There is a much subtler problem of geo-politics. Problem economics lead to instability and there is a point when that instability is more than headlines in the US. There are several powder kegs that seem to be waiting for a trigger (China- Taiwan, India-Pakistan etc,). Fixing the problems in the best of times will take resources that will 'drain the effeciencies out of our economy."

Its funny that the focus has been almost entirely on engineering and infrastructure and this may not be the big problem. The "goldilocks" economy that has padded so many 401k's is showing signs of age. Y2k disruptions could prove to be the straw that breaks so many camels backs. Unfortunately y2k will probably not erase the huge private, government or commercial debt.

I agree that TEOTWAWKI is a not as likely as recession/depression scenarios. But to a society that has yet to be tested a severe recession or depression could be just as painful as any shortlived outages come January.

Regardless of the outcome I will not be disappointed, surely people will suprise us all in the next 6 months for both the good and bad. The orchestra is ready and soon the show will undoubtably go on.

Waiting in the loge, program in hand, waving to all my friends, Squid.

-- squid (, November 29, 1999.

It all comes down to oil. Our economy and our socio-political system runs on the availability of relatively cheap oil. All your pink clouds of optimism about Y2K are at dire risk from the oil industry's decision to fix on failure, not to mention the quality and quantity of code remediation in overseas oil exporters. Electrical power, banking and telecommunications all depend upon oil to function. Oil looks very undependable just now.

-- cody (, November 29, 1999.


Stay tuned. Its not over until the turnover... and beyond.


IMHO, rather suspect will have rolling blackouts and/or brownouts in many areas... locally and globally. But... who knows for sure. Certainly not you, Ken. Or anyone... yet.

Premature prognostications, Ken.

Diane, *hoping* its nationally & internationally no worse than a 5... and considerably better


(BTW... WRONG again... BigDog is a Sysop of the Prep Forum and not TBY2K. Have a nice day, Ken).

-- Diane J. Squire (, November 29, 1999.

With just over 30 days left, it seems we can finally pronounce the "iron triangle" Y2K argument dead.

Maybe I'm being naive here, but shouldn't we wait at least until January 1st to claim that this isn't a real possibility? The chips will do what they will, regardless of our opinions; maybe we should withhold judgment on what they will do until we see it.

-- Steve Heller (, November 29, 1999.

'Clinton set to declare national emergency - More than 50 simultaneous Y2K crises expected, stretching resources to limit'


-- (, November 29, 1999.

Where's my rubber stamp... Oh yea, here it is...


Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (, November 29, 1999.

Ken, as Ronald Reagan used to say, "there you go again."

First of all, you give me too much "credit". But I'll let that pass.

I have always thought the impact would take months, excepting only an embedded systems crash. I still consider such a crash a realistic possibility, though less than I did a year ago. I never considered it a probability. Where's the major change? It wouldn't surprise me if any of the legs of the iron triangle go down -- though I'll be bummed big-time.

I NEVER predicted the absolute failure of any sector at rollover, let alone a single sector worldwide, yet you imply throughout your post that this was attached to me.

As you sort-of acknowledge, I never predicted a pre-rollover crash of the market -- I think I did anticipate 8700 or so at rollover. Score one for you if you'd like. OTOH, it isn't 12/31/1999 yet.

I have said for over a year that I doubted there would be panics in 1999, except maybe at the end, and never swallowed all the 99 prediction dates.

Last I looked, recessions and depressions take months/years to develop. This is new news? Not to me. Is there a post somewhere where I predicted we would have an instant depression on 01/02/2000? (I do encourage folks myself that Y2K will "unfold" and they don't need to be unduly fearful about New Year's).

Finally, I am not a sysop on this board, but only for the Prep Forum. Given the turmoil here, that is not a minor point and I believe you know that I am not a sysop because I've said so on MANY occasions, including threads you have participated in.

As for who will be "disappointed" if there isn't a meltdown, there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of statements from me from the first day I posted here that such is the last thing I have ever desired. I ask God that such a thing not happen.

All in all, I'm lost. Is this an attack couched as "support" for my being "nuanced?" If so, "thanks" .... I suppose.

But there ain't any new nuances here ..... I've been at 8.5 for a year. And, for that whole year, hoping Hoffy, Flint and, now, you, prove to be wonderfully correct (Y2K recession would be a GREAT outcome in my book).

As for next year's analysis, whatever it is, I sure hope the Internet stays up. I'm not good enough as a ham to communicate with my same fluidity using Mose. Plus, as I've said elsewhere, I've been blessed with a wonderful life and undeserved business opportunities that would be crushed by a depression.

If this is Y2K fatalism, I guess I qualify. But if read (and you imply you have) my posts to Hoffy, I don't exactly live a life based on fatalism, do I?

Here's to you, Flint and Hoffy being right! May it be so! Meanwhile, I still have MANY preparations to make. In fact, I expect to continue doing some prepping after rollover, precisely because 01/01/2000 won't mark the end of the world, last I looked, but the first day of next year.

-- BigDog (, November 29, 1999.

Ken: People change their minds from time to time. So what? I must be missing your point. Isn't the Iron Triangle concept predicated on the inter-dependencies between the three? For example, how does a bank run without communications and how are communications facilitated without power, and how do you have power without communications etc., In other words, problems in only one area of the Iron Triangles have an impact on the others. Interdependency. In order to refute the potential for the scenario and bury the Iron Triangle argument don't you have to refute the existence of the underlying interdependencies upon which the argument rests?

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@iron.triangle), November 29, 1999.


The main thing I would caution for now is that we all continue to use our own minds as much as possible in trying to grasp this thing, rather than primarily relying on the opinions of others. Obviously, many times we have no choice but to trust the opinions of others; but that is not my point.

For example, I've encountered some IT-ers who are brilliant in what they do, but have difficulty graping the larger, systemic picture. You may discern this and therefore not want their opinions on the effects in the U.S. of breakdowns in foreign countries.

This is certainly no reflection on Big Dog's post, as I'm not familiar with it, nor with him. Just a reminder for us to always examine and filter others' opinions vigorously and scrupulously to the extent practicable, before we accept them.

-- eve (, November 29, 1999.

Ken said: "...the "Big Dog" seal of approval is not easily won. From a leading pessimist (and sysop), this is a powerful endorsement..."

Diane said: "BTW... WRONG again... BigDog is a Sysop of the Prep Forum and not TBY2K..."

Sorry, Diane. Ken's 'mistake' was not in his statement, but in your imagination. I can't find it anywhere else.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, November 29, 1999.

"With just over 30 days left, it seems we can finally pronounce the "iron triangle" Y2K argument dead."

An instant classic. This is a keeper.

Thanks for my second good chuckle o' the day.

[1st was from WRP 132... shelters ordering 32,000 ELECTRIC blankets!!]

Seems the "argument" is not "dead" even if the disruptions don't occur. The "argument" is that the 3 legs of the triangle (many would add a 4th - water) depend on each other and all other businesses depend on those three. If any one goes down, it is likely to bring down the other 2... and lead to cascading failures throughout the infrastructure and economy. The "argument" is not false if the power is on. The argument is only false if one or more legs fail for any significant length of time, WITHOUT causing cascading failures.

And of course... there's a reason it is called the Y2K problem... not the J2451512 problem.

It's ain't over 'till its over.

-- Linda (, November 29, 1999.

Even as late as August 1930, there were financial analysts declaring that the "temporary market fluctuations" were over and the good times were at hand.

As far as the 1999 markets, basically human nature runs things. Mere rumors have been known to influence the market by hundreds of points. What do people do when they have a deadline that is unchangable?

They wait until the last minute.

IMHO If there is going to be a major market drop/crash/correction, it may well come starting December 27th, when everyone's head pops back out of Santa's A**.

-- Powder (, November 29, 1999.

People can say that children are our greatest natural resource all they want I still think it's petroleum.

-- zoobie (, November 29, 1999.

I fail to see the point of your post. I have been following y2k for over a year, and I haven't seen many predictions that something terrible would happen on or near January 1. I do think many people failed to give deserved attention to possible oil industry problems. Oil may very well be the most vulnerable sector, and the world runs on oil. As far as the stock market is concerned, even most bulls did not expect teh extreme valuation levels that we are seeing now. Manias usually susprise everyone.

-- Dave (, November 29, 1999.

16 November 1999



Speakers: Ina Kamenz, Vice President of Marriott International

John Hughes, Mayor's Office of Emergency Management New York City

COL Tim Christenson, Deputy Director Y2K Operations, Dept. of Defense

. . . Ina Kamenz: The first time I spoke to you there were 819 days. Now there are 46 to go. My life is pre, and post, Y2K. Y2K has been an influence on my life over the past three years. I joined Marriott in the early 1990s. After Y2K! we don't know what we'll do.

[[I]] talked first to you about how we would document anything. The second time I came in mid-1998, we had found how big it would be, including peripheral units' IT such as the payroll systems. In 1997, we focused on methodology. In 1998, we reeled on realizing how big it would be. In 1999, the question is what will the weekend be like? Some coordination centers are renting out our ballrooms! But we followed our methodology, and noted our lessons learned, and that is why I get invited to talk.. We employed tools, used techniques, and measured. I have a joke; what is the difference between a terrorist and a Y2K program leader? You can negotiate with a terrorist! We will produce reports, etc., about this. Our execs, program managers, and board of directors- it took time to wake them up, but they have done a wonderful job.

He [[Webster]] asked me what has been the most complex thing about this? His hat is off to us for what we have done. But it is planning for contingencies, contingencies, and contingencies. But when Hurricane Floyd went through the Southeast, we had to evacuate 30-plus senior living facilities and 40-plus hotels, and we used our Y2K plans. We plan to manage this over the 28 Dec - 4 Jan period at Marriott, and we plan to have our business operate then as it does today. Many other businesses plan to change how they will be reporting [[during that period]], but we think it would be a big mistake. We will report as normal. We had our $100,000 Kuala Lumpur package sell out!. We have to support our business, have our businesses report in, share the lessons learned, and keep a handle over communications. We have three key [[principles]]:

1. We must place decision-making at the lowest level, to fix housekeeping and local IT problems, etc.

2. We must use the current systems to record problems and prevent loss.

3. We must handle communications with the media at the highest level possible. The local hotels will have a one-pager to hand out, but everything else must be handed up.

On November 29 at 4 o'clock locally here [[the Oprah Winfrey show??]], there will be a viewership of 80 million, and there will be a segment on Y2K assurance. Bill Marriott will speak on hotel preparations, and FEMA and the airlines will speak, etc.

In our process flow, we are asking our locations to report at 2 and 6 hours after local midnight. We have set up various communication means, with phone, e-mail, and carrier pigeon as a last resort (L). The status reports will come into our data base, and we will track problems, and we will blend these to produce reports for Bill Shaw and Bill Marriott and our teams. Then we must slice and dice them for our franchises and our stakeholders.

We started our drills in September. Many locations that had low volume were shut down [[in part or full???]] in Sep and Oct. In November, we have been testing at 2 and 3 am. Dec 13-14 will be our full drill, with 15 scenarios in sealed envelopes. Staff will be at our enterprise centers, we will have drills of media requests, etc. We will have this at our offices in Bethesda and Frederick MD and Rockville, as well as CA, Atlanta, and Orlando FL. Our distribution services will shut down for the Dec 13 -14 test.

The biggest thing with this Y2K program is the documentation. We have 100 or more file cabinets, to prove due diligence. We asked our legal counsel what do we need to keep? Where to keep it- on site or off site? We wrote and distributed a due diligence guide, and storage started four months ago. We entered all the stuff in our legal management system. We are prepared, we hope. Key documents will be available at the rollover. Sydney's rollover is early. Yesterday, we talked with the lawyer, and he did not want us to throw the Dec 13-14 log away- he went white [[when we suggested that]]. We must be prepared to manage the crisis, but we do not expect a crisis.

In our information coordination center, we must manage the flow of information, keep people calm, and have business as usual. We hear that some full backups of mainframes and so on have crashed the systems, and we need to manage this. We need to have documentation plans.

We are used to having to plan. But how many [[others]] have written contingency plans? You must prepare for risks. For example, when the Denver Broncos won [[the Super Bowl]], there were riots and the need to instantly put plywood over the glass. In Paris, they are concerned about civil unrest. For NYC, and DC, will our preparation be right? We have done all we can do, and are proud of it. Book your hotel tonight!

John Hughes: Thanks for having me here, on behalf of NYC. I am the deputy director of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management. I am an 18-year NYFD person. On the Y2K readiness approach, we started Nov 96

with IT remediation. This was done by IBM consultants. The office got involved in Nov 98. Before then, I was involved with [[setting up]] 'Rudy's bunker'. Our mission is to ensure the city's critical processes will function during the millenium. Our planning effort, we just completed it. The first phase ran to June. Last March 15, I got promoted to deputy director. I didn't want to take the project; I thought I was too far behind the curve. But I had gotten the bunker built on time and under budget, so...

July 1 to 30 Sep was the yellow zone. My staff and IBM consultants reviewed the city agency plans, despite the mosquitos and Hurricane Floyd. October to Jan 4 is the red zone. In October, there was city planning workshops, where we got agencies all in the same room and plans and notes. In November is the tests. On Dec 8, from 9 pm to 2 am, we will have a tabletop exercise. We will be in our zero-day seats from 0900 Dec 29 to Jan 4, plus or minus a couple of days.

To select our city-wide mission-critical functions, we sent out a questionnaire last Jan, and identified 900 systems. Some of these were non-critical, so we weeded these to 300. 300 were too much, so we decided to do public safety and payments, and these were about 75 mission-critical systems. We started to identify the critical systems, prioritized what could fail, and then worked these [[issues]]. We worked the process through from the time a 911 call comes in until the time someone goes home from the hospital, and mapped it. We wrote how to improve the 73 processes, and asked the commissioners how to improve the contingency plans.

In September, we were told to weed the 73 systems down to 25. For example, the 911 system is VIP, but the traffic lights! We did contingency planning on patient care from A to Z, but it was hard to get [[everything identified??]] There is the Department of Education, the Board of Health, Health and Human Services, emergency intervention services, etc. There are a lot of human services in NYC.

When we started citywide planning in October, we worked to identify functional groups. The water and ConEd people were on one side, the safety sector on the other. We decided to invite in not only what we controlled, but what would be impacted. The health agencies report to us, but we also plugged in others.

We are hoping for calm at our nerve center. We spent $15 million on our center- DC [[the Federal government]] spent $50 million. The Federal government broke their center down into various functions too. Before I get into event management as a whole- In NYC, no one is employed by OEM. We come from all over. We have a day to day staff, and also '24x7' responders to coordinate emergency responses with incident commanders. We have developed 'get you a helicopter, crane, etc.' services. But the same resp onder will then come back, in the Y2K period, to the EOC. We will have in the EOC the Mayor and so on in the conference room, getting sitreps. Also, we will have people from private industries, financial, tourism and so on in functional groups, via e-mail and bulletin boards, and they can provide the corporate side of the house with a unique relationship. Over in Hong Kong, I don't expect information from their government, but we have nothing to hide. We will also have a public relations unit. We expect triple the number of calls after the Sunday night [[Nov 21st]] movie. Fear is not a good thing. The city has put in due diligence; to have opportunists ruin it would be irresponsible. The press, CNN, etc. will be on the floor.

On event management, our number 1 and 2 concerns, aside from public safety, are power and communications. We worked closely with ComEd. We are working to provide continued service. But the outages of 1965, 1977, and last summer were big. During 1977, I was working outside, and I was told to just keep on working and ignore the rioters.

We spent lots of money on back-up generators, and also ensured that plug A will fit into slot B. [[muttered remark- 'I don't think DC has done that']] As far as fuel goes, the agencies have been directed to top off, and we are purchasing fuel. We had ideas of fuel barges, but they did not want to tie up the barges. We got authority to purchase existing fuel in existing tanks. We will communicate via microwave, as satellite phones are bad on Broadway. We have cell phones, but we can't get #1 priority, but the cell companies plan to bump up signals. But what insurance do you plan to buy? We could also use the 800 MHz, backed up with generators and batteries.

We have talked to Sydney and Israel, and we will share information with them and with the West Coast folks who are coming here. We will have SWAT teams at our IT warehouses to ensure our mission critical systems are OK, or OK enough to handle, and if they are not OK, we will call in the hardware and software teams. There will be 12 hour shifts, and the police and firemen will be pre positioned; [[they will not be inside at midnight Jan 1??]]. We bought lots of tools and equipment, so if HVACs at agencies go out, we can send generators.

We surveyed shelters for Y2K use. There would be blankets and so on. The meals, the contents would be scary, but- We asked agencies for their needs, and one of them requisitioned 39,000 electric blankets, and we questioned that.

COL Tim Christenson: We work at the Y2K desk for DoD during the rollover. There are three things DoD needs to do at Day One: (1) get reports from the operational forces; (2) monitor the health of our own systems; and (3) deal with the non-DoD requests to help foreign agencies or civilians. We will be monitoring, for if our operations are degraded, that would interest us. Our [[internal]] reporting normally doesn't cover systems problems. We want early warnings, for example from Guam, so we will get involved with that.

In the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon, there will be a Y2K desk, and problems will be reported up through us [[to the ICC]] if they are important enough. There are 6 areas that DoD wants to report on to the ICC. These include (1) the status of mission-critical systems, (2) the status of the Pentagon's building systems, (3) the military retirement systems, (4) the military hospitals and health affairs, (5) installations outside the US, and (6) US installations.

We plan to mitigate the effects of disasters and emergencies, to provide transport, telecommunications, fire fighting, search and rescue and medical care, food and energy. We provide these when requested by domestic agencies, or by the State Department.< P>

We can provide immediate response to save lives, mitigate suffering, or prevent great damage to property. But these are short-term efforts, 72 hours at the most. Beyond then, we need to have it formally requested up to us [[through channels]] for us to support. Local [[installation]] commanders can provide the immediate response. If there is a Y2K problem, if it's just a 72 hour problem and the local base commander is inclined to help, you're OK. Otherwise, the governor has to have the President declare an emergency and have FEMA tell OSD to give planes, emergency medical gear, etc. We have to check with OSD [[Office of Secretary of Defense]] and JCS [[Joint Chiefs of Staff]] on assets available, with the comptroller on the budget, etc. to deliver domestic support. Internationally, the State Department may make the request to the President. A local commander can act, and we can respond to FEMA or to the State Dept., in emergencies.

We can do even more if there is a long lead time on the request. The Federal Reserve said 'we want to stash cash' in certain locations where the banks had no room but the bases had space, so we accommodated them. But Montgomery County asked 'can you house 600 prisoners?' We referred them to the recruiting command. (L) [[Note: there were news reports a few days earlier about British Army proposals to recruit from prisons.]]

On Day 1, we will be doing normal operations. We will be monitoring the health of our own systems. We will be taking requests for aid and will staff to ensure we can do so, but our own [[normal]] operations take up a lot of resources. State [[Dept]] and FEMA may want more too. We need to provide information on what's available, and on what problems in the infrastructure may hurt us. We need to look at information assurance- are we being attacked? We also need to look at critical infrastructure protection to ensure our base of support is OK, and also at technical information coordination, our call center, and monitor the current situation. These are our 5 areas of concern. If we lose power, we don't know why we would be [[making certain efforts on the 8th floor of Crystal City instead of using two Humvees???]]

Webster: It's question and answer time. Give us your questions.

---: For DoD, in Hurricane Andrew the governor did not ask for aid until very late. How can DoD give aid if the governor doesn't ask? If the phones are out-

Christenson: The local commanders can aid under the three categories. Since this is an expected event, the State FEMAs want to get help from the feds, and have been working on how to request it. We expect to get some alternate communication mode wor king within 3 days. It is illegal to respond beyond the immediate need unless [[formally requested??]].

---: Will you be surveying to see if 'no response=problems'?

Christenson: FEMA will check.

Hughes: In NYC, there is a saying that the Feds are 36 hours out. Don't rely on the Feds, but on the local system or on local mutual aid. The Feds are not a fire truck showing up in 4 minutes.

---: I question- where does the NYC public play in personal or community preparations?

Hughes: In NYC, we tried to communicate to the public. We have public service announcements, and we will air them more frequently as we get closer to the date. We also have a Y2K web site. And this week, a Y2K brochure will be going home with the first report card, and the kids will explain it. (laughter) When the movie hits Sunday night, the phones will be ringing off the wall. But there was a very poor response to the 'Community Conversations' in New York City. But as we get closer, the public will spike in interest.

---: Are there any contingency plans for New York City? What about water and sewage?

Hughes: Our Dept. of Environmental Protection- Our water is gravity fed, and it will flow to the 7th floor. But we encouraged building owners to ensure their HVAC is OK. And we will have pumping generators in low-lying areas for water and sewage.

---: DoD has addressed malicious attacks. Has NYC or Marriott?

[[other Marriott spokesman]] We will turn off e-mail to protect ourselves. And there will be property and guest protection too. You will have to prove you are a guest or customer of the hotel.

Hughes: Our Dept. of Information Technology will have firewalls, and our 40 thousand officers will be on heightened alert. The conventional threats from militias, milleniallists or doomsayers could be bigger than [[computer ones]]. And the police department has plans for 'frozen zones'.

Paula Gordon: Are there any plans for chemical or nuclear problems? And would FEMA be able to move faster than 3 days?

Christenson: FEMA has contingency plans for chemical or nuclear fast response.

Gordon: What of NYC evacuation plans?

Hughes: We have hazmat teams. Our first one in 1984 [[became known as]] 'Mop and Glow' (L). In the past four years, we went to first responder hazmat squads for biological and chemical problems, for both the fire and police departments, for we need evidence preservation. But evacuation would be the same as if it was a hurricane. We get threats each day, a lot more than the public ever knows about. When we need to evacuate, we use the storm plans.

Christenson: The White House has decided that there will not be any expectation of disastrous consequences, so there will be no fast response [[by DoD??]].

---: On pre positioning- ships were sent to Tacoma [[WA]] in the 1940s. Are there any plans for this? And generators?

Christenson: We must respond to requests from the Commander in Chief, but there have been no requests yet from communities/etc.

Hughes: We don't turn our back on neighbors. In Hurricane Floyd, we got a call from Bound Brook NJ, which is southwest of NYC. We checked it out, and then we responded with helicopters and so on. And to Rockland County we sent pumps, chain saws, etc. to help them with downed power lines.

Mark Frautschi: I understand that many cities will have big [[New Year's]] celebrations. How are you to manage that?

Hughes: As each time zone celebrates, Times Square will too, every hour on the hour. Honestly, Times Square is being managed and the police department will oversee this. My responsibility is emergency management, not festival management. But we ar e coordinating with the tourist bureau. They claim there may be 4 million people celebrating - but they will not be all in Times Square.

---: We hear a lot about counties and cities that have done much, but what if NYC had not planned?

[[Marriott rep]] For Marriott overseas- Moscow, China, etc.- there has not been the effort of countries to prepare. So we have our backup generators, etc. If we can't provide support, we are looking at moving our guests from unsafe places.

Hughes: But it's also a function of how far you are from manual. If you are newly computerized, people remember how to manually process arrests. But if you are very computerized, you had best have done the work.

---: What are your January concerns?

Hughes: Vacation. (laughter) But we will be on alert in NYC through January. We can reactivate the EOC in two hours. We have established relationships in this, and have plans we can use in emergencies. We have hooked others up on the LAN, so that if the lights go out on Day 7 [[we know who to call???]]. During the heat crisis, we had on day 6 not the stars and bars of Day 1 but the workers. So we put together then 'who do you call if!.', hyperlinked. We will be manned 24X7 through Jan 4. And the leap year, we will pay attention to that too.

[[Marriott rep]]: You can book well into next year. But we need to look at the quarterly financial reports with a suspicious eye too, as there possibly may be external feeds giving poor [[data]].

---: John Hughes, you said there is 'hype and hysteria'. But where will it come from if people are not paying attention?

Hughes: The news media tends to exaggerate, for example 'snow crisis' when there are one or two inches. And the round-the-clock celebration in NYC may pose problems.

---: How will you deal with the generators if the gas pipelines are shut down?

Christenson: Batteries.

---: What investment are you making in alternative communications?

Hughes: Satellite phones did not work well in skyscraper places. What will work is what I buy.

---: How much are you buying in alternative communications?

Hughes: About $200 thousand. But our communications centers have alternative communications. We are leasing too.

[[Marriott rep]]: If a country has a [[strong]] possibility of failure, then there will be a satellite phone for the hotel manager. If the country is low risk, we ensured multiple ways of [[normal]] communications. But the activity level of the hotel also guides us.

Christenson: We have a redundant communications system.

---: You suggested DoD [[responds to]] normal emergencies. What would be different about this?

Christenson: There could be things happening all at once, and 50 governors could be calling for help, and we would need to deal with that all at once.

---: What about IT-specific [[concerns]]?

Blue Suit: I am the Deputy Director of the Air Force Y2K Office. We tested weapons IT, but we are still dealing with perplexing unknowns. IT will not keep me awake at night. But will a third-tier supplier fail? We tested our switches continuously for 60 days, and they worked OK; the phones will work. But the call billing and maintenance databases may get corrupted. There will also be the Mother's Day syndrome, with calls all at once, like the calls at rush hour.

I don't know that there will be any catastrophic scenarios. December 31, I expect it will be like watching paint dry, like it was at GPS rollover, 9-9-99, the [[federal]] fiscal year rollover, etc. We have an exercise tomorrow, and another 7 Dec. I will be at our center at rollover, watching all the mission-critical systems work. But some non-mission-critical ones may not work, data may get corrupted, and we may see [[it surface]] 6 or 7 months later when the widgets get counted as 10 million ones or as none. Things will not fall out of the sky, but-

---: Will you invite all the speakers to next month's meeting?

Webster: There may be some Y2K fatigue, but-

---: What will you monitor New Year's Eve?

[[Marriott rep]]: Sydney computer systems that are in other hotels; we have a process in place to alert us. And we will be watching BBC, CNN, etc. too.

Hughes: We will monitor too. But we will monitor 911 and so on. We have a staff of people looking at city services.

Christenson: We'll monitor key installations, the State Department, etc.

Paula Gordon: Are you aware of Martyn Emery's scenarios? Or the Auckland experience [[1998]] with the blackouts? They used buildings even without electricity, and there were code violations. Will you be providing portable toilets?

Hughes: We have shelters identified, with fire inspectors going through it. Each shelter will have sufficient water, food, and blankets. Many of these will be in schools.

Gordon: But if you tried that in DC, there would be civil unrest. Is NYC impractical too?

Hughes: If you are poor, you will go to church or to a school to get heat.

Gordon: What about kerosene heaters?

Hughes: NO. I've seen too many dead people from kero heaters. (I asked him about this afterwards and he said that because of the fire risk and carbon monoxide poisoning, kerosene heaters are illegal in New York. -ckh)

---: But if the power is out in New York City, it may be a regional problem, or at least citywide. On planning, how can you support citywide or regional-wide shelters? In my experience about shelters, I haven't seen specific plans for this.

Hughes: But the shelters will have backup heat/light/generators/etc. And churches do open doors in emergencies.

---: But I worked with the Red Cross. 90% of the time, the churches are closed. It takes an intentional effort, and talking in advance to churches, to open them.

Webster: It's 8:30!.

(c) 1999 by "Critter"

This article is published as part of cory hamasaki's DC Y2K Weather Report and may be reproduced under the same terms and conditions. All other rights reserved to the author

-- What the (big folks@are.doing), November 29, 1999.

Golly, gee, now that I've read Decker, I'm now I'm a -5 (minus 5), meaning that come 2000-01-01 I will find the streets paved with gold, fountains of milk and honey, Bill and Hillary will be getting it on together, again, and the United Nations and the aliens will establish world peace and "social justice", wipe out hunger, and create a Bill Gates lifestyle for 10 billion people. [grin,wink].

A month to go -- a lot can happen in a month. You can have a heart attack and die within a couple of minutes. The stock market can dump 500 points per day for five days (not necessarily contiguous). A nuke can go "boom" in a microsecond. A chem/bio attack can spread within 3 hours. Gold/silver/platinum/palldium could rise 5% to 10% per day for five days (not necessarily contiguous). And on 2000-01-01, a whole bunch of computers could screw up.

And, of course, you could have anywhere from one to sixty or more orgasms in that period. [wink,wink,nudge,nudge].

-- A (, November 29, 1999.

Ken Decker,

Sounds good. I hope you are right but I'm keeping my powder dry.

-- Lars (, November 29, 1999.




Save that REQUIEM for later !


-- snooze button (, November 29, 1999.

Ken -

Should your scenario prove true, both a Requiem and Te Deum will be most appropriate.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), November 29, 1999.


The petroleum is worthless as a resource unless the parents of the children know how to get and use the petroleum.

-- nothere nothere (, November 29, 1999.

Ken, I hope you are right. I am more philosophically aligned with Big Dog, Squid, Diane and some others. I have been a 4-5 for about six months and am somewhat relieved to see the more positive signs.

I am with the others and feel it will all hinge on global issues such as JIT supply lines and availability of oil. When you add in potential synchronistic issues as poor weather, regional preparedness on the state/local level, terrorism, etc., it could get much worse. We just don't know. I am expecting a few unpleasant surprises and long term economic an technical malaise

If you have not looked at WRP132 yet or Bill Ulrich's Computerworld article, you might want to do that.

-- Nancy (, November 29, 1999.

My original post was as much about the changing nature of the Y2K debate as the validity of the "iron triangle" argument itself. Given the steady stream of information about Y2K, positions have altered. Of course, some folks have not modified their position.

The new "hot" argument is "oil." This might stem from recent price increases and memories of 1973-74. For the record, I hope we don't repeat the mistake of price fixing. The best way to ensure market equilibrim is to allow supply and demand to determine price. Without doubt, some Americans would suffer if gas were $5/gallon (like in Great Britain.) In truth, we have enjoyed some of the cheapest petrol (at the pump) in the western world. I don't worry about gas "shortages" unless the government fiddles with the marketplace. There are also benefits to higher petroleum prices. An oil shock might encourage the development (and comparable affordability) of alternative energy sources. (Love the new automobile technology.)

My point is simple. The argument for a Y2K catastrophe has evolved. Without an iron triangle collapse... it becomes more difficult to suggest the "end of the world." On a side note, our "society" has endured recession and depression.

Diane, if you want to chastize someone for premature predictions, I have a list for you. (laughter) Several forum pessimists have been busy little bees predicting our demise. Ah, but I forget, you only chastize the optimists....

As Ronald Reagan's aides used to say, "Don't worry, Mr. President, you didn't miss a thing."

I did not mean to imply you predicted the Apocalypse, Russ, but you are a leading pessimist on this forum. For you to endorse a "non- crash" probability makes the news. Correct me if I am wrong, but weren't you a sysop here at one time? Could have sworn you were back in the initial turnover to Ms. Squire, et al.

Returning to the "iron triangle," the weight of factual evidence suggests the utilities, financial services and telecoms will function within acceptable standards on rollover. Of course there are interdependencies... but all three legs look OK.

-- Ken Decker (, November 29, 1999.

I was never a sysop on this board. I count that one of the few truly fortunate events of the past year .....

-- BigDog (, November 29, 1999. said,

I don't worry about gas "shortages" unless the government fiddles with the marketplace. There are also benefits to higher petroleum prices. An oil shock might encourage the development (and comparable affordability) of alternative energy sources. (Love the new automobile technology.)

I can agree with your statement "An oil shock might encourage the development of alternative energy sources". During out last oil crises alt. energy was brought to the front page only to falter when the spigots were opened again. Such a shock as you envision though may make all our assessments come true, Y2K or not.

BTW, please let me know when the government doesn't fiddle......

-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a, November 29, 1999.

Ken: Back to the Iron Triangle - While I now understand the point you are trying to make, I must disagree with your conclusion. I have not yet seen what you referred to as the "weight of factual evidence" which indicates that all three will operate "within acceptable standards". Perhaps I have been reading all of the wrong things. Can you help me here?

Were there some independently verified tests run proving this? I was under the impression that we only had stand-alone self-reporting, a concern also raised by Senator Bennett as well as others.

Are the thousands of critical suppliers for All three also ready? I was not aware that they were. I think we would agree that they are indeed important, for even IF all three were 'ready', critical suppliers would also have to be. Just as an example, I remember a couple of years ago there was a strike at two GM plants and the company couldn't get some parts from these two suppliers - the result was they could not produce an automobile. Reportedly, GM has 100,000 suppliers.

It is my impression that there have been good attempts at verifying supplier 'readiness', yet they are also based on self-reporting and few companies have actually gone through the time, expense, and trouble of actually finding alternative suppliers.

Also, there is some agreement that Y2K is one of the largest software projects ever. Certainly, the weight of factual evidence regarding software metrics over the last several decades argues against All Three (plus critical suppliers, plus interdependencies) being remediated on time and brought into production successfully. Then there is also the percentage of newly introduced errors as a result of remediation. Then there are the small and medium-size businesses that are suppliers to Iron Triangle sectors. Reportedly, as a group, they continue to lag far behind. Not to mention international lack of readiness. Virtually every report that I've seen shows serious Y2K problems abroad. Don't the Iron Triangle sectors also have international suppliers on which they depend?

I am aware of the changing sentiments and opinions, but certainly this is not the same as factual evidence. I am very interested in the "factual evidence" that you allude to, and look forward to you posting what specifically you are referring to.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@iron.triangle), November 29, 1999.

Rob... try for info on the petroleum industry, FDIC for information on banking and NERC on power-generating utilities. Of course, the pessimists dismiss every positive article or report as "happy talk." Conversely, every negative report is read as gospel. If you are highly motivated, use a news search engine like Yahoo to recover articles from 1/1/99. The vast majority are positive, albeit self-reported. By the way, the FDIC is a "third party" regulatory agency conducting the reviews.

As for the "thousands" of critical suppliers... this is misleading. Not all suppliers are critical... nor are they all "ready" today. Firms that supply goods and services routinely fail... and yet business continues. Let me respond with this, Rob, only those firms who want to continue making a profit will be ready.

A privately-held firm owes John Q. Public nothing in terms of reporting Y2K readiness. Second, choosing not to report Y2K readiness is not an admission of failure. Third, self-reporting Y2K readiness is not necessarily a lie. Fourth, software metrics do not apply to Y2K. Ah, heck... I need a new post for this...

-- kcdecker (, November 30, 1999.

"only those firms who want to continue making a profit will be ready"

Wishful thinking doesn't fix broken programs.

Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (, November 30, 1999.


Aren't you able to respond personally to the substance and logic of Rob's post without throwing websites at him? Anyone can throw websites. So, come on -- are you up to the task?

-- eve (, November 30, 1999.


What substance or logic? Have you heard of "proving the negative." Rob wants someone to prove things will NOT fail on rollover. If you want to apply the rules of logic, Rob has made an assertion. I'd like to see a list of all the programs that will fail on rollover. How about the embedded chips? I'll wait for Rob to "prove" his assertion... until then I will gratuitiously reject his unsupported claims. Thus far, the pessimists strongest argument has been, "We just don't know." There is little HARD evidence of potential systems failures... just a boatload of speculation. Try a little test for me, Eve. Use the Yahoo newscrawler to drag up Y2K articles from the past year. I've read the articles almost every day. The weight of evidence is on the side of the optimists. And the pessimists offer primarily FUD.

-- Ken Decker (, November 30, 1999.


First, re your assertion, "only those firms who want to continue making a profit will be ready": Aren't you aware of how many small to medium-sized businesses are doing nothing or next to nothing about this? The numbers are estimated and may differ depending on what your source is, but the numbers are massive, are they not? And all of those are not pursuing a profit?

And many of those that fail won't affect anything else, even though a couple of them brought down GM a few years ago?

And many of those that successfully convert in time won't be brought down by key suppliers going down? You don't need a website for this one -- just connect the dots. Sure this happens now. But you don't see the possibility for a significant increase in a month or so?

Regarding your articles: If this is mostly from the general press, I have a feeling as to what I'll see. And would it really matter anyway? Do you mean to imply that if most of the "articles" were positive, that means that by that fact alone there's a good chance things will go well? And including companies'self-reported PR statements to boot!! (Now I'm not saying anyone's lying here, just that there would appear to be a propensity to). Please tell me you're kidding here, Ken, and that I don't have to explain myself further.

-- eve (, November 30, 1999.


Many small businesses do not use a personal computer as a mission critical component of business. The data available on small to business-sized businesses is sketchy and based on surveys. If you wish to provide the source data on the surveys, including the exact questions, I will be delighted to review them. At this point, it is hard to imagine anyone in the developed world who has not heard about Y2K. I have participated in the readiness of a major nonprofit agency and a small public corporation. I also have worked directly with many small business owners who are confident they will weather the storm.

Of course, some will be wrong.... Some will fail.

To my knowledge, GM is still operating. Perhaps they learned from their supply line problems... perhaps they did not. The failure of GM is possible... but it does not mean the end of the world, or even the economy.

Successful firms will have secondary and tertiary suppliers identified. The suppliers who fail will leave market share for suppliers who do not. Not every firm in this economy is operating at capacity. I'd love to buy a failing firm for pennies on the dollar, and then import their employees to work on my operational systems. Y2K is a buying opportunity... and don't think there aren't companies with "war chests" waiting for the weak in the herd to falter. Failures are necessary in capitalism a la Schumpeter.

As for the articles, they range from the mass media to IT trade journals to gov't and industry reports. Of course, there is an incentive to lie... but there is also an incentive to tell the truth. If a company self-reports Y2K readiness, they are subject to legal action should it be proved they lied. They also face retribution from customers and vendors who depended on their statement. In fact, to lie about a problem like Y2K is risking the "death penalty" for a business. How many companies are so short- sighted as to preserve profits for a few months only to take a savage beating later?

-- Ken Decker (, November 30, 1999.

This is a very thought provoking thread.

A: Could you give justification for your assertion regarding the possibility of 1-60 orgasms in a month? Specifically, are you assuming January with 31 days, or are you giving an average for any month in the year 2000? If it's an average, are you factoring in that Feb will have 29 days due to 2000 being a leap year? How might extended power outages, dietary changes, etc., impact your assumptions?

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), November 30, 1999.

Ha, Ha, Ha

"At this point, it is hard to imagine anyone in the developed world who has not heard about Y2K."

Never underestimate the ignorance, procrastination or entropy of the American masses.

-- Guy Daley (, November 30, 1999.


In many instances, the secondary and tertiary suppliers are just the tip of the iceberg. Very often the supply lines stretch across the globe, and thus are vulnerable to the condition of foreign countries' infrastructure as well. Can you vouch for all of that?

Re GM, it seems you missed the point entirely; I expected you to extrapolate from that. It highlights the vulnerability of big companies.

-- eve (, November 30, 1999.

Anyone, What is a sysop?

-- Pat (, December 01, 1999.

Sysops, why is KEN DOUBLE DECKER allowed to post here on this TBY2K forum? He should be deleted on site!!! Bastard conniving double dealing polly troll!!!

-- Troll Busters (Troll@busters.unite), December 02, 1999.

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