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Bloomberg Technology News
Mon, 03 Jan 2000, 12:45pm EST
Y2K Oddities: A World of Strange Tales and People as the Millennium Turns
By Brian Rooney
New York, Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The new year brought with it a compendium of odd human behavior at the turn of the millennium. Here is a sample of offbeat Y2K stories:
Dennis Olson, a 41-year-old Wisconsin electrical engineer and computer consultant, spent $20,000 buying food, drinking water, a generator and medical supplies preparing for Year 2000 computer problems, the Associated Press reported. Olson, who has a wife and two teen-age sons, may donate some of the provisions to charity, including 400 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 175 pounds of pasta, 50 bars of soap and nine tubes of toothpaste. ``It's a little bittersweet to see it end this way,'' Olson said in the AP report.
Two men in Cambodia killed each other fighting over superstitions that a ``millennium bug'' would kill people unless they ate a certain type of cake, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper. Tan Sokha became enraged when Kao Ly, 72, refused to believe he would die if he failed to eat a custard, rice and lard cake wrapped in banana leaf, the paper reported. The two men died of wounds inflicted in the ensuing fight.
Disappointed Philippine cult members returned to their homes after spending New Year's Eve waiting for an ``all-consuming rain of fire'' predicted by their 80-year-old leader, Antara news service reported, citing the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Some of the 100 followers of cult leader Ceferino Quinte had quit their jobs to dig tunnels and stockpile food to prepare for the apocalypse.
A French man who spent the last month of 1999 in a cave to see how his body clock adjusted to isolation thought New Year's Eve was Dec. 27, AFP reported. Michel Siffre, 60, descended into the caves at Grotte de Clamouse on Nov. 30 in his third body- clock experiment in 28 years. A surface support team is monitoring his experience while he is underground with no way of keeping time.
A prison inmate in Concord, New Hampshire, sewed his eyes and lips shut with dental floss because he feared the new year, officials told the Associated Press. New Hampshire State Prison guards said they found the prisoner, who was serving time on a drug charge, in his cell, covered in baby powder and clutching a Bible. He was afraid of the oncoming year, a prison spokesman said.
Two people died and about three dozen others were rescued as they attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to celebrate the new millennium, the Associated Press reported. American Janepher Stephen, 51, collapsed at 19,443 feet and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. German Werner Hoain, 55, died at 15,510 feet, and an unidentified guide said he was having breathing problems before he collapsed, AP said.
A customer of a Cologne savings bank found 3.9 billion deutsche marks ($2.01 billion) in his account when checking his balance online, possibly as a result of a Y2K error in the bank's online banking software, German news agency DPA said.
A Colonie, New York, video-store customer was stuck with a $91,250 late fee when the Y2K bug caused a computer to record the customer's tape as being 100 years overdue, the Associated Press reported. The customer was one of the first of the year at Super Video in the Albany suburb. The store's owner, Terry J. Field, recalculated the charges by hand, and then let the customer rent another video for free, AP said.
Fortune Brands Inc.'s Web site is carrying a date of Jan. 3, 3900. The Lincolnshire, Illinois-based maker of Titleist golf balls and Jim Beam bourbon said in its Y2K readiness disclosure statement that critical internal issues had been resolved. Company officials couldn't be reached for comment. A voice recording Monday said the company's offices were closed for the holidays.
And, of course, there were the millennium baby stories:
An Indianapolis woman gave birth to twins born just two minutes apart -- one at 11:59 on Dec. 31, 1999, and one on 12:01 on Jan. 1, 2000, placing their births in different years, centuries and millennia, the New York Post reported. The birth of Jacob Wallman and sister Jordan was no accident; mother Julie Wallman, realizing she needed a Caesarean section, asked doctors to wait until close to midnight to perform the surgery. Other sets of twins with birthdays straddling the millennium were born in Enid, Oklahoma; Seattle; Fairfax, Virginia; and Germany, the paper said.
The first baby of the new millennium was a boy born in Auckland, New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald reported. The baby was in stable condition today in the hospital's ``special care'' unit, the paper reported. His parents have asked not to be identified.
A baby girl born in Turkey shortly after midnight Saturday was named ``Ikibin,'' for 2,000 in Turkish, AFP reported, citing the Anatolia news agency.
A baby born in South Korea on New Year's Day turned 100 years old the same day, since a hospital computer listed its birthday as Jan. 1, 1900, DPA reported.
-- John Whitley (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 03, 2000