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OK, I'm ready! The pantry is stocked with gourmet provisions such as peanut butter, sardines and fat-free, sugar-free cookies -- they last longer. A three-way flashlight with long-life batteries is close at hand, and just in case, an emergency candle. My filtering unit for the tap water works just fine.

I opted not to stockpile extra blankets because I'm convinced global warming is ensuing at a rapid clip. Instead I picked up industrial-strength sunscreen at a real bargain. Selectively, I've read every other issue of my magazine subscriptions so that I will remain entertained during zero hour, whatever that is.

My bank has kept me informed regularly for the past six months, assuring me that they have the Y2K problem at bay. Darn! I was hoping the annual percentage rate on my mortgage would get lost in digital transmission and revert to the 1900 rate.

In spite of these interruptions from normal holiday confusion by this militia mentality, I've managed to decorate the Christmas tree three times this month, not because I like to do this sort of thing, but because the lights I purchased refuse to stay illuminated. I'm convinced the reason these lights don't stay lit is because they are manufactured in a country where Christmas isn't celebrated. Those people still use candles, and the economic conspiracy here is to reduce Christmas light sales and push the candles.

Getting back to this Y2K matter -- if my bank guarantees it has everything under control, why is everything out of control? Not only are we stockpiling peanut butter and sunscreen, but recently a mechanic tied my emergency brake lever with a plastic twist-tie to something under the dashboard, in an attempt to keep the red brake light from flashing. This highly trained, friendly technician also diagnosed the rear brakes as being just fine. Only the star adjuster was frozen. Great, just what a girl needs -- more light problems. Which, I later learned, translates into rust, corrosion and bad brakes.

See, it's the deep-rooted light conspiracy. Technology has sparked greed and infested every aspect of human activity. This mania is focused like a laser beam to compound human error at lightning speeds, which has the power to usurp sanity in a nano-second.

I'm also convinced there are few niches where peace of mind can be found in the midst of chaos, not even during intimate moments on the Internet. To avoid crowds, I thought I'd give the superhighway a try for some last-minute holiday shopping, only to find a serpent alert! Posted unpretentiously was a message warning of a destructive computer virus designed to erase all data from the hard drive.

The virus, dubbed W32.Mypics.Worm, was discovered Dec. 2 and is slated to affect Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT systems with a payload that triggers for the New Year. Needless to say, my Internet shopping expedition came to a quick close. I wasn't willing to sacrifice my hard drive for the inconvenience of driving to a mall.

Everything is as it should be according to my bank, with the exception of course that life in the new millennium might be about two degrees north of insane. But then again, didn't we all contribute to this reality? We can't blame Santa Claus or Suzy Snowflake.

My bank lied -- nothing's in control. I'm buying more candles. Happy New Year!

HALINA BIERNACKI, a free-lance writer, lives in Cheektowaga.
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