Silver Pantihose, Yes -- Hawkeye Casket, No

Okay, I admit it. I did buy the silver, limited edition, millennium pantyhose to wear tonight, New Years Eve.

They're probably called limited edition because they'll turn into shreds during the first wearing, but I bought them anyway. Perhaps my only concession to the New Century.

You'll be happy to know I did not invest in the limited edition casket.

The casket offered by my alma mater, the casket with the University of Iowa Herky the Hawk in bold gold and black on the casket lining. I don t care if it was Enduroglas, or the strongest burial idea in history, or will provide timeless protection, or that it would last a lot, lot longer than the limited edition pantyhose.

I did not buy it this year and I will not buy it next year either. I do not want to go to my great reward with a dead bird staring at me, forever.

And, since this year, this century, is now ending, is Massachusetts Y2K compliant, you may ask. Well, I m told that it is. And has been since December first. Now, if< something stops working, don t blame the messenger.

Not too long ago, I was told every state department was ready except for the Legislature and the Courts. The Judiciary branch has been, slowly but surely, making< progress, and should be ready by midnight.

The legislature is ready--The House of Representatives even got a new computer system to be sure we were Y2K ready. (Believe it or not, we can now actually access the Internet. However, we can only send faxes to people in the 617 area code.)

Everything else in the Commonwealth seems ready to go.

The state promises no disruption in fire-related services when it comes to communication between separate fire departments, or requests for back-ups, for example.

The State Police are Y2K compliant, including everything from their fingerprinting database to their parole board. The emergency 9ll system is ready as well. As are the Sheriff s and Department of Corrections.

Massachusetts Emergency Management has been spending most of its time telling the public and public officials how to handle unnecessary fear and reassuring local officials and the public that everything is ready and that disruptions are expected to be minor and isolated.

If you're expecting a check from the state, you should get it Treasurer Shannon O Brien s office has been ready since June. They're ready in all departments from the Pension Reserve Investment Management Board than handles $3-trillion in funds to their phone system, from their State Street Bank accounts to lottery machines.

The Department of Public Health monitored all of Massachusetts 107 hospitals for Y2k and reported that all are compliant, and 98 percent have contingency plans, including dry ice for medications and backup generators, in place.

Yes, everyone from banks and water departments, to railroads and legislators, are ready for the new year, new century, new millennium.

If you're on a train, in Washington, DC, for example, you'll probably make a 10 minute stop at midnight. Your train will stop with their doors open, at a station, just in case of any last minute glitches.

Amtrak will do the same but delays may be 15 minutes to an hour. Amtrak's spokesman said (according to Reuters) We will stop at the biggest station along each route, so that if, God forbid, anything goes wrong, we can get those people off as necessary.

The cost to the state for all this compliance in Massachusetts alone? An estimated $103-million. And we've been working on it since 1995.

Want to know more? Go to <http://www.state.ma.us/consumer>www.state.ma.us/consumer and you'll find the Virtual Neighborhood Tour Web site, with reliable and helpful Y2K information about the Commonwealth.

Will your traffic lights work? Will you get mail? Will the coffee pot brew? The site will answer your questions.

Now, I have to run. Going to fill the card up with gas, buy some firewood, go to the grocery store to buy water and candles and ...

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