Countdown to the New Millennium

The Countdown to 2000 AD

January 1999

So far this year seems to be underwhelming in it's significance. The only people doing anything different are the marketing people. A number of companies have put themselves forward as the official millennium providers of whatever product they peddle, one of the more successful being "M&M's" (MM being the Roman numeral for 2000).

February 1999

The Y2K bug is still hot in the news, but not exactly fever-pitch. Every now and then we hear about some airline or power company that isn't going to be prepared, but most people appear fairly relaxed.

There's regular reports coming from America about survivalists going bush, but I don't know of anyone doing it here in NZ. A lot of people are planning to be far away from any technology on New Years Eve, just in case something goes badly wrong. The most common preparation plans seem to be stash some cash and petrol.

April 1999

I got caught out badly on April Fool's day by a TV News item which reported that Australia had successfully applied to have the International Date Line moved to the West side of New Zealand, so that they would see the New Millennium first.

June 1999

No-one seems to have a plan for celebrating New Years Eve. The main centres are pushing themselves, and Gisborne is certainly claiming it's share of the spotlight, but nowhere in particular is standing out as the "Place to Be".

July 1999

This month has been a little more unnerving. A few weeks ago I saw a TV News item about a Nostradamus prediction of doom and gloom. The item reported this as being one of his few predictions to specify a date -- July 1999. Apparently, the first signs of global disaster would be fireballs from the sky and earthquakes. Since then, we've had a shower of meteorites which astronomers described as "fireballs", followed by a series of earthquakes.

We all knew that the Armageddonists would be out in force at the turn of the millennium, but I didn't expect to be listening to them.

August 1999

Predictions are that the internet will reach a majority of the population (ie. surpass the 50% access point) almost exactly at the turn of the millennium. More spooky coincidences.

November 1999

This election has one noticeable difference to previous years - the acceptance of the internet.

December 1999

There's not quite as much Y2K merchandise around as I would have thought. A few people are wearing clothes with slogans & logos such as "Countdown to 2000". I got a Y2K glass for Christmas, and I bought one of my cousins a "Kid's Guide to the Millennium". Time capsules are quite popular. 

Still, the whole event seems somewhat less of an event than I would have predicted 10 years ago.

23/12/99

I've decided to take a low-key approach to the New Year. I had always imagined that it would be party party party, but now that it's here, that doesn't seem so appropriate. I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I feel more like being quiet and contemplative. I've seriously considered climbing a (small) mountain somewhere and watching the sunrise alone.

26/12/99

I was talking to a friend of mine in the TV industry about TV3's "Millennium Broadcast" on New Years Eve (which he's working on). I could have got a job working on this broadcast, and I sort of regret no doing so. After all, it is the biggest live event in TV history. On the other hand, he's giving up his entire Y2K celebrations to do this.

Instead, I've committed myself to working for Trackside Channel on New Year's Day. It looks like my biggest contribution to the Y2K will be broadcasting the first horse race of the new millennium. The big plus is that it won't impinge on my New Year's Eve celebrations, which at this stage still look likely to be quiet.

27/12/99

This report was on Teletext today:

"Y2K: Most NZers remain underwhelmed.
A survey just released shows most New Zealanders plan to treat the millennium like any other New Years Eve.
An AC Nielson survey of just over 1000 New Zealanders shows that although just over half the respondents think of the millennium as a significant event, 62% have no special plans for the night, and 72% will stay home.
Thirteen percent of respondents said they will make major changes to their lives at the beginning of the new millennium."

Apparently, the weather is looking promising for most of the country on the 1st January.

28/12/99

It's definitely all the focus now. I was in town today (Palmy), and they were finishing off the staging & fencing for the celebrations. It seems like a very late rush, but everyone's talking about nothing else.

30/12/99

I received the following email from Doug Stanley of the Florida Tampa Tribune...

To: <mail@dave.co.nz>
Sent: Thursday, 30 December 1999 10:44
Subject: American newspaper reporter needs help

Dave,

Stumbled onto your great personal Web page and wondered if you'd be
interested in helping out with a Y2K story.

All it involves is taking a few minutes to talk with me on the telephone as soon as we could hook up and again as the new year arrives in New Zealand, 17 to 18 hours ahead of us here in the United States.

If you're interested, write back and include your phone number. Thanks and Happy New Year.

Doug Stanley
The Tampa Tribune

I spoke to Doug several times over the next 48 hours or so, and he included a short story about me on the front page of the Tribune's New Year Edition - you can see it here.

On to New Year's Eve