Weekly Wire
Nashville Scene No Bugs Here

No crash, no rapture, no nothin'

By Walter Jowers

JANUARY 10, 2000:  "Well, that was about the biggest bunch of nothing I ever saw." That's what my mother, Susie Jowers, would've said if she'd been around for the Y2K changeover.

There were no big computer meltdowns, no nukes launched, and no more than the usual number of little rubber-band-driven planes falling out of the sky. As of early morning Jan. 3, CBS News was reporting only one Y2K celebratory death in all the world. It happened just after midnight in Las Vegas, when a tipsy reveler shinnied up a light pole on the Neon City's famed Strip. When the unfortunate climber got to the top of the pole, he posed for the crowd, then grabbed hold of a powered-up transformer. Kabang, he was electrocuted, amidst a frisky shower of sparks.

Even with all that, no lights went out in Vegas.

Last week, when I was back home in South Carolina, I ran across the most peculiar of Y2K kinks. As I was flipping through a relative's magazines, I found one with a cover story entitled, "We're Still Here. Now What?" The story was a guide to dealing with depression. Apparently, there is a sizable group of people in this country who were counting on getting sucked up into heaven with the stroke of 2000 midnight. Now they're going to be bummed because they didn't wake up wearing dem golden slippers.

Now, I don't want to make fun of anybody's deeply held beliefs, but I've got to wonder: Did these folks think their brethren were going to shoot up to heaven one time zone at a time, starting at the International Dateline, on the tomorrow side of Fiji, and ending up on the today side? Assuming a Nashvillian was on the heavenly passenger list, could he have gotten a head start by going over to Chattanooga? Even more puzzling: Could a total non-believing heathen watch somebody just to his east shoot up into heaven, get his mind right in one big hurry, and then shoot on up to heaven himself?

I can't think too much about that stuff. My thoughts are full of hardware.

So far, I've only heard of one suspected Y2K hardware failure. My buddy Ken, up in New Jersey, told me his 6-year-old answering machine refused to work on Jan. 1. So he got on the Internet and went to the manufacturer's Web site, seeking guidance on how to resurrect the machine. The date on the Web page was Jan. 1, 19100. Ken took this as a sign that the company wasn't really prepared for Y2K, and he figured his answering machine was hosed.

I told him to unplug the thing and take out all the batteries, including the one that stores all the date and time information. With that done, I told him, he should put all new batteries in and plug the machine back into the wall receptacle. I'm proud to say it worked. If you've got a gadget that went wacky on Jan. 1, you might want to try the same thing.

In the last few days of December, a few people swore to me that their light bulbs were burning out much too quickly. Clearly, some of these folks suspected early leaks of the demon-possessed Y2K electricity that was sure to come spilling out on Jan. 1.

You people with premature light-bulb failures, listen to me: Buy better bulbs. You can't just grab up an armload of those generic, discount-rack light bulbs and expect 'em to be any good. If buying better bulbs doesn't cure the problem, you might have to buy better fixtures. Cheap light fixtures have cheap lamp holders, which make intermittent contact with light bulbs and cause the bulbs to burn out.

If you've got good bulbs and good fixtures, and you're still blowing bulbs by the carload, then you could have a vibration problem. People who live near highways, railroad tracks, and one of the bazillion TDOT blasting sites are apt to blow out a lot of light bulbs. If you don't believe me, just turn a bulb on, let it heat up, then give it a little thump. Chances are, it'll stop working. That little glowing filament can't take much jarring.

One excellent way to avoid changing light bulbs is to buy bulbs rated at 130 volts, rather than the usual 110-volt bulbs. You probably won't find the 130-volt bulbs on the rack at the hardware store. You'll have to go to a lighting supply house, or maybe even order them. They cost a little more, but they last a long time.

If you do all these things, and you're still blowing bulbs, there's always the chance of an esoteric electrical problem, like a loose neutral wire in the lighting circuit. Any electrician with a thimbleful of brains can find loose neutrals and tighten 'em up.

Finally, a prediction: This week, many computers will crash or otherwise screw up. Ninety-five percent of the problems will be caused by operator error. All of these will be blamed on Bill Gates.

Visit Walter's Web site at http://www.nashvillescene.com/~housesense, or e-mail him at walter.jowers@nashville.com.

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