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Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley.
November 9th, 1999

Go Down With The Ship
Our family party will be held on the 12th of December, which is good, because we've been told that we absolutely cannot be out of town on personal business after the 15th. Now to see if I can book a compartment on the train.

I wonder what New Years Eve really is going to be like? Most of the computer world will be either lashed to a cell phone with instructions not to stray too far from the office or they're going to be at the office ready to put out fires. We have offices all over the world so the turn of the year starts on Thursday the 30th as Australia slips over the edge one day in advance. What we're really talking about is two New Year Eves, one right after the other, each having to be continuously monitored by computer people in our crisis center manned by people from every department. You have no idea how much money we've spent on this, to what lengths we've taken preparations. So far everybody's nodding their head and saying yeah, of course, we'll be there, sober faced and ready.

But, um, what does that really mean? Sober faced and ready? As the day draws closer. People who, Oakland City Center at a Warriors basketball team promotion. like the Sole Proprietor, have not had a chance to kick out the stops for a very long time. Who remember their partying past. Who have stories they could tell and would tell and maybe should tell if they weren't so lame-assed dumb and embarrassing to relate. This is, after all, the thousand year click. Yes, yes. I know. An arbitrary number on an arbitrary clock. But what an opportunity! Old farts like me will be watching more than participating perhaps, but there are practiced youngsters out there of serious intent who will, with imagination and style, find some way to make waves, appropriately sized big Millenium level waves to wash away their sorrows. Fuck, the collective sorrows of these last 1,000 years. The mind boggles, stretches, snaps! Probably around ten that night, two hours before the ball goes down, after everybody's had a chance to get pretty heavily into their favorite medicines, developing the steam that will carry them, some of them, whole days into the future before they wake up and try to remember what happened. How does that translate to a downtown Oakland office with a bunch of anal crazies huddled around computer screens? Waiting. Silence. Except for the party outside.

Well, hell. What can I say? Nothing. A few sips of something on the side. One or two really senior executives with the power to fire you on the spot keeping everybody on their toes and acting rational. The hotel across the street (Where we've booked blocks of rooms for people to crash should the world really go all to hell and we need to extend the 24 hour shifts.) is a traditional site of parties. New Year Eve parties, Halloween parties, birthday parties, political parties. They'll have something happening. Some number of things happening. Will people slip over from the office and cross the street? What am I saying? Probably not. I'm a senior techie. Got to keep the top screwed in place, present a staid and sober exterior, a man ready, if necessary, to go down with his ship.

I'm not sure about tomorrow. Dinner after work with two old friends I haven't seen for a while. Maybe I'll get back home too late to write.

The banner photograph was taken on a recent Sunday morning on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The man was a spectator at a Warriors basketball promotion in the Oakland City Center.