Dooms daze and Y2Ks

2000 zero zero

Party’s over, oops! Out of time!

— From “1999.”

Was the artist formerly known as Prince on to something?

There are doomsday scenarios. According to some Internet sites, it is time to “bunker down” for the coming apocalypse — have freeze-dried food, bottled water, gold bars, a loaded gun and plenty of ammo. There will be power failures, bank runs, food shortages and marauding hordes. What is the real deal on the Y2K and is there reason to fear when 2000 is here?

One Paradise Cove resident thought so when she recently left Malibu and headed for the hills. “She was afraid everything would shut down and we wouldn’t get any food,” says neighbor Steve Kunes. “She felt safer in the middle of nowhere.” Why the panic? It’s all because computers run everything from ICBMs to ATMs, they can’t read the year 2000 and, survivalists say, when the clock strikes 12 on Jan. 1, the world will come to a crashing halt.

As D-Day approaches, local computers are being tweaked and tuned. The city of Malibu has spent $20,000 upgrading its systems for the approaching millennium. As for Armageddon, Malibu Finance Director Bill Thomas says, “I don’t see that happening. I can only worry about Malibu, and it appears that we are Y2K compliant.”

Pepperdine has been working on the Y2K problem for months. “There would be a significant impact on us internally if all our computers failed,” says Chief Information Officer John Lawson. “But we are in pretty good shape. All of our mainframe and mid-range computers are compliant.”

Lawson doesn’t have any dire predictions for Malibu, but the same can’t be said for places farther afield. “There is a greater danger in what we would call Third World countries,” he notes. While the United States Pentagon states that 95 percent of its “mission critical” computers will be fixed by June, the outlook for other nations is not so rosy. The Global Millennium Foundation, for example, describes computerized defense systems in the former Soviet Union in a word — “scary.”

Back in Malibu, fears over a Y2K meltdown has been a business boom for Pacific Computer. Hard-drive handlers are happy to get you ready for 2000 or sell you the kind of software that will. Technician Creshia Jones has been making plenty of service calls in recent days. “There are going to be problems if people aren’t prepared,” she says. “No one knows how much this is going to affect us.”

If the worst-case scenario becomes a reality for Malibu, what then? Longtime residents take it in stride. “Malibu is the best place in the world to be,” says Kunes. “Road closures, fires, floods — we have an apocalypse every year.” Thomas agrees. “I’ll probably have a few bottles of water on hand, but we’re pretty good at handling our own emergencies.”

Mass hysteria, hype or the hereafter. What will it be?

We have 330 days to find out. Some say it’s the end of the world as we know it, but others seem to feel just fine.

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