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BRACE FOR DISASTER, CATASTROPHE AND, MOST HORRIFYING, 'COPACABANA'

If you've been worrying about this "Y2K" computer problem, you can relax. I am pleased to report that, according to computer experts, everything is totally under control. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, you might as well stop reading this article right now!

I said THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT and you should STOP READING THIS COLUMN RIGHT NOW.

OK, good. We have gotten rid of the idiots who still actually believe the news media. We are down to the savvy individuals like you -- people who know, from personal experience, that nothing involving computers is EVER "under control"; people who have attempted to perform some seemingly simple computer-related task, such as connecting a computer to a printer, and eventually decided -- after weeks of puzzling over manuals written in the Ewok language and trying to communicate with "Technical Support" -- that the only workable printing solution is to hold a piece of blank paper in front of the computer screen and trace the words manually.

Oh yes, this Y2K thing is going to be very, very bad. At exactly midnight on Dec. 31, all the computers in the world, and an estimated 80 percent of the Etch-a-Sketches, will malfunction. In one way, this is good: Your Permanent Record from school will be erased forever, which means future generations will never find out that you once mooned a Thanksgiving assembly.

But everything else about Y2K will be catastrophic: Lights will go out; phones will stop working; the banking system will collapse; jukeboxes will refuse to play anything except "Copacabana"; VCR machines will suddenly start displaying the correct time; and -- this is the ultimate nightmare scenario -- airline computers will charge people who are on the same flight THE EXACT SAME FARE. Within hours, civilization will collapse.

And believe me, the "computer experts" know this is going to happen. Why do you think Bill Gates built himself a house the size of the Houston Astrodome? To hold parties for his friends? WHAT friends? He's storing canned food in there! Unfortunately for him, the Y2K problem is also going to cause all the can openers in the world, both electric and manual, to become inoperable. But don't worry about Bill Gates: He employs many skilled, highly intelligent engineers. So he can eat them.

You are not so fortunate. You must find a way, right now, to feed your family when Y2K strikes. You will NOT be able to grow crops, because photosynthesis will no longer work (many areas will also be without gravity). You might want to consider getting a cow and some pigs. That way, when everybody else is starving, you can go "Ha ha!", because you'll know that any time you get hungry, all you have to do is grab a sledge hammer and mosey out to your yard, and there will be your cow, looking at you with big brown eyes that say: "Hi! Your kids call me Daisy! You could no more kill me than you could mate with a squid!" And then you will mosey back into your house, because the pigs are chewing on your sneakers.

So forget livestock. You need to get a large supply of food that cannot look you in the eye, and you need to store it in a safe manner. What do I mean by "in a safe manner"? I mean "not in the manner that was described in a news article on the front page of the April 4, 1999, issue of the Northwest Arkansas Times."

This article, which was written by Sarah Fisher and sent to me by alert reader Missy Leflar, is headlined "BEANS, RICE EXPLODE AT FAYETTEVILLE HOME." It concerns a man, apparently preparing for Y2K, who filled some six-foot pipes with "a mixture of beans and rice with dry ice." He planned to bury the pipes, but before he could, pressure from the dry ice caused one pipe to explode in a blast that blew a hole in his roof, spewing beans and rice all over. The police had to evacuate the area and bring in a bomb technician to detonate the other pipes.

I don't want to alarm you, but there is no way of knowing how many other people have unwittingly created Y2K food bombs. You could be living next door to such a bomb. And it might not be as benign as rice and beans. What if your neighbor happens to like seafood? How would you like to be awakened one night by a violent explosion, then watch as your house and loved ones are torn to ribbons by large, sharp pieces of high-velocity shrapnel from an Alaskan king crab? Wouldn't "Crab Shrapnel" be a good name for a rock band?

You had better come up with some answers to these questions, because time is running out. Y2K is right around the corner, and you need to be prepared, no matter what it takes. I'll sell you my cow.

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