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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   millennium ends
Friday, December 31 1999
I hate the people who say that the millennium ends next year "because the first year was year one." Would these same people say their child was one year old on the day he was born? Since no one knows when the fuck Jesus was born (or even if He was born), we can say He was born in year zero and that when He turned one it was year one, and so forth. It's all arbitrary and it's all about the zeros, baby, and that's what we'd be getting at midnight and I could barely wait for the airplanes to come raining down out of the sky.
In the morning I fielded more of an immediate crisis, Sophie's urgent need to contribute to the topsoil of Charlottesville. By the time I got back to Nathan and Janine's house, everyone was up and about. We decided it might be nice to go out to breakfast. But our bad luck in finding open restaurants continued and first the Blue Moon Diner and then the Blue Bird Café turned out to be closed. When all else fails, of course, there's always Fox's Café on the edge of Belmont, so that's where we headed.
Just looking at the parking lot we knew the place was packed, but when our elderly waitress tried to seat us back by the men's room we thought better and grabbed a place just being vacated closer to the front. But with her asthma, the background levels of cigarette smoke were proving overwhelming to Kim. She actually wanted to go to another restaurant but, mainly to keep me from bitching about her fussiness, she compromised and we took the table closest to the front door, which Kim propped open with a wad of free magazines. I'd thought that "downriver" (as in downriver Detroit) would be a suitable near-description for the staff and patrons of Fox's Café, but as I looked around I realized I was dead wrong. This was a blue collar southern establishment, the likes of which no one will ever find anywhere near Detroit. The waitresses are all 45 years or older, the patrons are all overweight and crane their necks to look at anyone who comes in the door. Tips are usually paid in an assortment of nickles and dimes.
Interestingly, none of us ordered eggs. Kim and I split three BLTs between us.
Being part of the Charlottesville dog-owning scene, Nathan and Janine are well aware of all the local dog-oriented places. It turns out that there's a park in Charlottesville where, like San Diego's Dog Beach, dogs are allowed to run free. It's located down on the floodplain of the Rivannah River in southern Charlottesville, not far from the abandoned factory I explored with the goths back in February of '97. Like San Diego's Dog Beach, this park is regularly flooded and the accumulated dog turds washed away.
So we headed down there with Sophie and Tio. The weather was perfect, with absolutely clear blue skies and temperatures of about sixty. I'm sure it wasn't much better back in San Diego.
There weren't that many dogs in the park when we showed up, just a few yarfing around near a lady whom Nathan and Janine seemed to know, if only for her visits to the park. The woman had brought three or so dogs with her, and they were all enthusiastic as they greeted Tio and our somewhat intimidated Sophie. One of the dogs was a smallish German Shepherd-mut and he had a especially strong interest in Sophie. He didn't quite know what to make of a dog that size. For a time he kept charging at her, each time letting out a single bark and retreating, as if testing her to see what she would do. This irritated Sophie no end, so she'd charge back at him baring her teeth and letting loose with a few high pitched Sophie barks. If she could have she would have bit the hell out of harasser, but he always managed to get away just in time. After about fifteen minutes of this, I feared Sophie would pass out from her exertion, so I picked her up and held her until the cycle of intimidation and counter-intimidation was broken. For her part, Tio engaged in lots of crazy horseplay with a number of dogs, particularly a big white dog and a dog that looked like a somewhat lighter copy of her black self.
Kim, Janine, Nathan and I walked around a loop trail on the floodplain, past sand small sand dunes and snags of debris left from past floods. Kim and Janine were having their own conversation while I asked Nathan about his job. He's a network/system engineer for a local school system and does things with LANs, software installation, and other deep back-end tasks. Owing to governmental nervousness about Y2K, he has to work tomorrow, but he doesn't think anything is going to happen. "It's all a big show," he said.
Back at the parking lot, the heat of the sun had imparted a lazy quality to the day. We swang on the swings and climbed on the monkey bars. I saw an airplane passing overhead contrail-free through the flawlessly blue sky and suddenly realized fully that this really was the final day of the 1900s. A fat redneck was sitting in his big old-model American car blaring WWWV on his car stereo. The show was a countdown of the top rock songs of the century, and the Eagle's "Hotel California" was the song. Kim was jonesing for a joint so I suggested she go ask the redneck, but she never had the nerve. Just before he departed, he dropped three or four empty Budweiser bottles in the parking lot trash can.
Kim and I bade Nathan and Janine goodbye and headed out.
I made a tour of all the computer stores I used to know looking to buy a Pentium heatsink and fan, but all the places I used to know were out of business, moved, or closed. There weren't even any dumpsters to dive.
We found ourselves up on 29 North, with me in the Radio Shack dismayed to find them out of stock with Pentium heat sinks. I met up with Kim in the nearby Whole Foods, where pre-millennial crowds of shoppers crowded aisles and jockeyed for position. A canker sore in my mouth (the result of lips chapped by climatic tourism) had me in a mood every bit as foul as the road raging drivers of shopping carts. I wanted our shopping experience to be as brief as humanly possible, and miraculously it was. [REDACTED]
Back at the childhood home in Staunton, I dove back into my computer work right away. An issue with a Umax scanner driver killed several hours of my life (ever heard of "cannot load vmm32.vxd"?), but a strategic internet search yielded the answer (and more importantly, the patch) to my problem.
I was disappointed to hear that the new century was dawning in time zone after time zone and no planes were crashing and no lights were going out.
At the very stroke of midnight, we were hanging out in the cluttered living room of my childhood home, drunk on everything from Gentleman Jack to champagne, when the ball in Times Square did its thing. I was tooting on penny whistle and my mother was banging on a drum at that momentous occasion. Then it was over, the year 2000 was here, and nothing was different. As I was heading to my Shaque to go to sleep, I could hear rednecks in the distance still whooping it up in the cold air of night. I wonder, can technology continue to advance now that we have a two as the first digit of our date?

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