CANADIAN PRESS: "Y2K survivalists shrug and dig into stockpiles, but some say it's too early to abandon precautions" - 'It is very, very premature at this point in time," said Peter de Jager' : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This is from the CANADIAN PRESS newswire...

January 1, 2000

Y2K survivalists shrug and dig into stockpiles, but some say it's too early to abandon precautions

FREDERICTON (CP) -- Cindy Littlefair never did get to try the Y2K tuna tin survival strategy in a real emergency.

But sometime over this New Year weekend, Littlefair may dig into her modest cache of stockpiled goods and give the tuna tin theory a try, just for the heck of it.

"I read that if you take toilet paper and wad it in a certain way into a tuna tin, put a wick in the middle and light it, you can get enough heat to boil water," said the Halifax resident whose hoard against Y2K disaster includes lots of toilet paper and tins of tuna.

"I may try it today, just for fun."

Littlefair says she was never a serious Y2K survivalist.

About a month ago, she came to believe that the tycoons who keep the wheels of the corporate world running smoothly would not let a little thing like the Y2K computer bug derail global markets.

So she relaxed, eyeing her seven bottles of club soda, a few extra bags of rice, the toilet paper and the tuna as more than enough insurance in the unlikely event the Y2K bug proved too big to stomp.

"In the last month, any concerns I may have had turned to indifference."

That was the attitude many Canadians adopted in the countdown to the year 2000, and now that the New Year has arrived with almost no glitches, it seems to have been the best approach.

Survivalist Bruce Beach of Horning's Mills, Ont., was among those who went to extremes to protect against Y2K chaos, stockpiling an underground bunker built out of buried school buses.

But he found no need for the intricate labyrinth of retired buses, built in 1980 as a nuclear bomb shelter, when it became clear power and telephone systems remained intact.

"We were only opening it for people who were out in the cold and dark, if they didn't have any lights or heat," he said Saturday.

"But the lights and the heat stayed on."

Over the past few months, repeated assurances from people running power, telephone, computer and financial companies as well as government agencies calmed fears that the year 2000 would bring computer crashes, power outages and widespread systems failures.

It's estimated that, globally, it cost anywhere from $300 billion to $600 billion to exterminate the Y2K bug in computerized systems.

As people around the world toasted the New Year, just about everything kept humming along smoothly, even in developing countries where problems were expected.

But not all of those who prepared for disaster are ready to abandon their careful preparations.

"I said to my wife, 'Don't throw out those extra bottles of water just yet'," said Gary Whiteford, a geography professor at the University of New Brunswick.

"It looks pretty good, but I think we have to wait until the middle of the month at least before we can truly relax and say this is over."

Whiteford is cautioning against premature celebrations for several reasons, including the fact that the New Year arrived on a weekend, when pressure on computers is relatively light.

"This isn't a work day," Whiteford said in an interview Saturday at his home in Fredericton where he has enough wood and supplies to last until the spring.

"I'm optimistic, but at the same time cautious. There are still some major tests for the system in the weeks ahead."

Whiteford said it's too early to detect weak links in the chain of supply. For instance, he worries about the many U.S. power plants that rely on coal for fuel.

"Obviously, the plants are stockpiled for the short term," he said. "But there could be glitches in the rail system that supply those plants with fuel. We'll have to wait and see."

Power supply problems in the United States could have implications for Canadian utilities which are hooked into the North American grid for the sharing and sale of electricity.

Whiteford isn't the only one worried about what might happen in the next couple of weeks.

"It is very, very premature at this point in time," said Peter de Jager, one of North America's foremost Y2K commentators.

"We expected the infrastructure to be OK, but wait until next week to start drawing conclusions about how successful or unsuccessful we've been."

Experts say the majority of Y2K problems will occur throughout the year, since some computer programs aren't put into operation right at midnight on Jan. 1.

The year 2000 bug was born when computer programmers began using a two-digit code to represent the year. Thus, 99 would represent the year 1999, but 00 would refer to the year 1900 -- not 2000.

Computers that remain unchanged could cause errors, work disruptions and complete shutdowns.


-- John Whitley (, January 04, 2000


DeJager going DOOMER again?


-- Wildweasel (, January 04, 2000.

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