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Y2K command center, 5 AM, Saturday.
January 3rd, 2000

The Ducks
Today was quiet. No problems this morning when the company machines were booted, consistent, it seems, with the rest of the world. Was there a Y2K problem? Oh, yeah. We spent a lot of time and money correcting it, primarily in the mainframes, but in the other computers too: the Unix boxes, the file servers and the desktops. Lots and lots of desktops. We replaced two thousand desktops because their BIOS chips were non compliant. None of it cheap. I'm not sure how much of it we did to reduce our liability from lawsuits if one of our systems failed and damaged a client or a supplier or a granny lady who skinned her knees on a non compliant company burjabbit. But it was a lot.

The eight hundred pound gorilla was our liability for damages if we failed to do everything we could to anticipate and correct every conceivable problem. What's a conceivable problem? You'd be surprised. Contingency plans on top of contingency plans. The backup satellite phone system, the extra computers in every office ready to go with alternate operating systems and software loaded just in case Windows crashed. And so on. Dollar, after dollar, after dollar. Was it worth it? Hard to say. I'm not the one to judge. Maybe it's better not to know. We live in the land of lawyers and lawsuits. And computers.

Not much sleep last night. Long day on a tubercular ward. They cough on a tubercular ward, right? When they had tubercular wards? Colds, viruses. Half the journals I read have immediate members of their families - husbands, boyfriends, kids, congenital drunks and family pets - hacking phlegm. Beth, who sits across from me, mentioned she'd been coughing up blood in the mornings for the last week. Not much, you understand, but just enough to, um, you know, wonder. The nurse on the phone asked if it were bright red fresh blood or just old been around for a while dark blood? Dark. Well, that's not altogether worrisome. Just take care of yourself. What do you mean you're calling from the office! What kind of manager has you in the office? Well, um, our kind. ("Lawyers, lawsuits and computers. Lawyers, lawsuits and computers", sings the chorus.)

I was running late this morning so I drove in and parked across the street from the office Systems support after dinner break, 7 PM, Sunday. instead of walking. I had to be in early (in case the computers didn't behave on the first work morning of the New Year) and I was running late. Tired. Drove back to the apartment around noon, took maybe a 40 minute nap and then walked back. Took the long way around Lake Merritt watching the people file past, most of them on their lunch break. Men and women running the lake, walking the lake, skating the lake. Arms pumping in that exaggerated motion they must teach in exercise classes. I'm sure it builds up the cardiovascular system but it makes them look like little wind up robots inside some kind of weird video simulation. Idiots. Which tells you something about me and maybe where I come from. You wouldn't do that in some of the neighborhoods I've lived in. People would pick on you. Take your wallet and sweat suit and throw you into the lake with the ducks. Fuck the ducks.

Ally McBeal is playing as I write this and I have not until now been clear if the one hour Monday night Ally McBeals were rerun Ally McBeals or brand new for the current season one hour Ally McBeals. The famous "feed the frog some lettuce at the Chinese restaurant" scene is playing. I've seen this scene three times. The frog is named Stephan - Stef ah n - the bad news being Stephan is back (from the kitchen where they asked that he be taken and fed some nice lettuce while they were having dinner) and the good news is he tastes like chicken. I am not an organized person. I am not a curious about many things other people are curious about person. Regular curious organized persons would know by now that Monday night Ally McBeals are rerun Ally McBeals if they enjoyed them as much as I do. They would have found out a long time ago by, well, reading the Sunday TV section, for example. Obviously, even for me, the same scene three times in three months should be indicative.

The banner photograph was taken in the company command center at 5 AM, Saturday morning. The photograph of an OAT relaxing after dinner was taken early Sunday evening.