David Jaggard's

Quorum of One

an irregular publication

Issue number: 15

Posted on: March 6th, 1999

This site can also be accessed through the more wieldy url: http://choppingedge.com/quorum

The next issue will appear, like clockwork, some time pretty soon.

File under: Wet Humor



         Many people are concerned about the upcoming turn of the millennium, its social implications and the problems that could be caused by the so-called "Y2K bug".  In fact, here at This Publication we've received so many cards and letters on the subject, we can't divide the total number by itself.  Therefore, we have decided to devote this issue to sharing some of the messages we have, or in many cases haven't, received from readers around the world.  Or solar system.

Dear Sirs:
               Here in Hong Kong we're all wondering what we should hoard first.  Food?  Water?  Air?  What's most likely to disappear off the shelves as the deadline for the millennium bug approaches?

Mimi Mee

         Obviously, you've been reading those alarmist news articles that point out that in virtually every modern-day supply system, somewhere along the line there's a computer, and if that computer breaks down due to the "Y2K bug", then the item(s) concerned will no longer be available.  It is expected that this type of partially-informed, ill-conceived reasoning will lead to a certain amount of "panic buying" toward the end of the year.  There is no need for this.  We advise you to calm down, relax, get some perspective on the situation, rent a forklift, go to the supermarket and grab up everything you can right now.
         To answer your question, toilet paper is what you're after.  It's always the first thing to go whenever there's a fear of shortages.  Your behavioral models here are Morris and Lester Orr, twin brothers who lived next door to me in Beton Hall Men's Dormitory at the University of Colorado at Klamath Falls in the mid-1970s.  Every room had its own bathroom and the university supplied toilet paper, which could be picked up when you needed it from a utility closet on each floor.  The way it worked out, though, was that guys who skipped class a lot -- like the twins* -- and therefore were around when a new delivery came in would just take all they could carry and store it in their rooms.  The Orr brothers seemed to base all of their self-esteem on the sheer quantity of unopened 4-packs of toilet paper lining their walls while the rest of us bought our toilet paper at the supermarket.  Finally they couldn't make their way to the bathroom any more and had to be dug out with a blowtorch.  Remember: it's people like that who you're up against here, so back that station wagon up to the loading dock and fill 'er up!

*One was majoring in accounting and the other in undertaking, and they both finally graduated somehow.  I guess it was inevitable.

Dear Sirs,
        Hi! I plan to immolate myself in a crowded public place at noon on New Year's Day, 2000.  What I need to know is: how much gasoline am I going to need?  Also, what's a good reason for me to commit suicide in such a horrifying, disgusting and excruciating way?  I haven't figured that out yet.
        Thank you so much for your kind help -- it really really means a lot to me.

Layleigh Lane

         You will need about one gallon of high-test unleaded -- wouldn't want to pollute now, would we? -- per 45 pounds of body weight (slightly more if you're wearing synthetic fibers).  We recommend stocking up in June or July at the latest.  You never know how long those lines at the pump are going to be come December, when everyone's trying to top off the tank.  The last thing you want is to spend January 1st wandering around town with an empty jerry can, slogans scrawled on your clothes and forehead, plodding forlornly from gas station to closed gas station.  A word to the wise: this is going to be the biggest holiday in human history, so figure on nothing being open.
         As for a motive, what you want to do is distance yourself from all the extremists, fundamentalists, dirt-class head cases and doomsday cults who are likely to be attempting similar futile acts of violence at the same time.  For one thing, choose a site where you're not likely to be upstaged by a bomb -- in other words, far away from any embassies, multinational corporation HQs, George Winston concerts, etc.  If you're still at a loss for a cause when the time comes, we'd love it if you would kill yourself to protest the pedantry of people who can't resist telling you that the 21st century doesn't actually start until January 1st, 2001.  Take a few with you if you can, yelling "No Year Zero!" all the way.  Good luck, and have fun!


Dear Sirs:
         You know how most people keep their plates in a stack in the cupboard?  They have maybe ten or twelve plates, but most of the time they only use the top two or three, eat off them, wash them and then put them back on the top of the stack.  So this means that the plates on the bottom almost never get used, except for maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas when the whole family's there.  So most people eventually end up with four or five chipped, cracked, stained, worn-out looking plates while all the others have hardly even been touched!
         Well, not in my house: I rotate my plates, taking three from the bottom and putting them on top every week (Sunday night, right before the news).  That way I guarantee that all of my place settings will wear evenly and look the same for years to come.  Just to be sure, I put little numbers on the backs with nail polish so I can check that they're always in the right order and no one plate gets used more than the others.
         Just thought I'd pass on this handy little tip!

Wim O'Weigh


        Thanks so much for your lovely suggestion!  We're sending someone over to your house right now to kill you with a portable electric drill.  Don't thank us!

 Dear Sirs:
         What in the name of heaven did that last letter have to do with Y2K?

Really now,
Deedee Weady


        You will probably also want to stock up on sugar, which is the other item that disappears fastest in times of crisis.  Your behavioral models here are honeybees, who spend almost all of their waking hours making honey for long-term storage.  You probably always wondered what exactly honey is: bee secretion? Bee spit?  Bee sweat?  Or worse?  Well, the answer is: worse.  Honey is bee vomit.  The bees swallow nectar, an enzyme in their digestive systems converts it into honey, and then once back in the hive they hunker over one of those little hexagonal honeycomb cells, lock their hind legs and...


Dear Sirs:
        Will you please just SHUT UP ALREADY?!

William Bumbuweh


           In closing, we'd like to share with our readers the "Y2K Preparedness Guidelines" published by the International Pink Cross, a worldwide volunteer organization of health professionals and disaster relief specialists that just isn't quite as effective as the Red Cross:

(From IPC Publication ref.002-L8 "Y2K Preparedness":)

        To protect your household from any problems that might arise due to the Y2K bug, by early December 1999 you should have on hand:


- One week's supply of food and water in case the groceries supply chain breaks down.

- Plenty of candles, matches and a small bottled gas stove in case the power supply breaks down.

- A pile of green, wet wood and a fireproof blanket in case the telephone system breaks down.

- A battery-powered radio in case your TV breaks down.

- A hand-wound spring-powered record player in case your battery-powered radio breaks down.

- A minimum of 20 books of classic literature in case your hand-wound spring-powered record player breaks down.

- A subscription to Penthouse in case your ability to stomach classic literature breaks down.

- A divorce application from the state of Nevada in case your marriage breaks up.

        Given that any system whatsoever is liable to suffer from interruptions and anomalies, you might also want to consider these special provisions:

- Avoid riding in airplanes, high-speed trains or elevators right at midnight on December 31st.  If you are at a New Year's Party, avoid riding on banister rails, large dogs or your reputation from college of being able to chug the whole punchbowl of Purple Jesus with no apparent ill effects.
- Withdrawing large amounts of cash from the bank is NOT recommended.  For one thing, muggers are expecting this, and constant nervous checking of your pockets will just make it that much easier for them to pick you out of the crowd.  It's true that some banks may experience difficulties providing all of their regular services, but on the up side, for the first week of the year or so, there will be no effective difference between ATMs and slot machines.  In particular, there is a certain type of ATM which, if affected by the Y2K bug, will release its entire stock of banknotes to whoever happens to be using it at exactly 12:34 pm (EST) on January 5th.  To find out what make of machine this is and receive a list of banks that have yet to update their computer systems, send $500.00 in cash or money order (no checks or credit cards please) to The International Pink Cross in c/o This Publication.
- Men who pee in sinks should be aware that as of January 1st, 2000, this will no longer be possible.  This has nothing to do with Y2K, nor is it true, but our legal assistant Linda made us put it in anyway.
- There is no point in worrying about a lack of police or fire protection.  You won't have any, but there's no point in worrying about it.


        Those chips are not -- we repeat, NOT -- Y2K compatible.  Most of them date from the 1980s, when memory capacities were at a premium for that type of remote-controlled biologically inert microchip, and when the clock rolls over to midnight on 12/31/99, all hell is going to break loose INSIDE YOUR HEAD.  The consumption of alcoholic and/or effervescent drinks will only triple the force of the chaos that is going to be triggered in your nervous system.  The worst part of it is: you will not be able to notice any difference whatsoever in your own thoughts and actions, and it will seem like the people around you are continuing to act as though you are a perfectly normal person.  But that's just your perception.  In reality, you'll be making a blithering menace of yourself, tearing your clothes off, thrashing about uncontrollably in 14 directions at once and shrieking incomprehensibly while your friends frantically dial 911 to get an ambulance and straightjacket for you, but they won't be able to get through because the emergency phone system will have broken down.
        Therefore, The Pink Cross would like to take this opportunity, well in advance, to wish you a very Happy New Year.





 ¨©1999 by David Jaggard.  All rights reserved worldwide.