Dog Bites

More Millennial Angst and 72 Degrees in Your Head

More Millennial Angst
Oh, God. Christmas is upon us, and this year, hard on its heels, are the Y2K parties. Some of us, who already find an ordinary New Year's Eve to be entirely too much pressure, are just glad that, in technical terms, we have a whole year before the real turn of the millennium -- a whole year in which to get a huge raise (hint! hint!), book a trip to, well, Bali would be nice, find true love, correct at least the more troubling of our character flaws, and finally stop biting our nails.

Some of us. Not necessarily Dog Bites.

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Anyway, it's nice the way you get second chances, at least up to the point when you die. Meanwhile, though, San Francisco's Y2K preparedness efforts have reportedly been successful, but Dog Bites, preferring not to take any chances, has decided to spend the hours of the rollover in the city's Y2K response center. "Make sure you bring whatever you'll need to be comfortable for a while," Chris Hayashi, of the Y2K Program Management Office, told us. (We thought guiltily of the box of granola bars in our earthquake-slash-Y2K kit, which we'd already broken into under the dire circumstance of having forgotten to pick up a loaf of bread.)

The city believes all critical systems will function: The 911 system has been thoroughly tested, water will flow, all hurlable objects have been removed from the Embarcadero, the Police and Fire departments will be on full alert, hospital equipment may be relied upon to work, and the electricity is someone else's problem, which is about as good as it gets in government. "The Y2K PMO is one of the best things ever to happen to the city," says Hayashi. "We've identified all our mission-critical systems, and all the departments now have contingency plans. They wouldn't have had that without going through this process."

We believe we may say without irony that, here in San Francisco, this is a goodthing.

72 Degrees in Your Head
Without knowing the outcome of the mayoral race, we're unsure whom we should be sucking up to, which is frustrating. So we think we'll bash the dot-coms instead; it's hard to go wrong with that subject, and besides, it has come to our attention that there may be a significant exception to our previously stated rule that it takes 10 years to become a San Franciscan.

If you are a dot-com, you may never qualify.

Our apologies to anyone we've disappointed. Our original positing of a decade-long waiting period did, however, presume a temporary San Francisco resident's participation in at least some facets of the city's public life. For instance, while it would not be necessary to volunteer on a mayoral campaign, to picket proposed Rite Aid sites, or to join, say, Rescue Muni, we assumed it would be merely standard to vote, to read one of the local dailies, and to occasionally patronize the Farmers' Market.

But many of our more virtual citizens, we have discovered, travel in startlingly small orbits. In fact, they seem to consider interaction with San Francisco itself as a kind of engineering flaw in their daily existences -- something, like drag, to be minimized wherever possible in the interests of efficiency. No, they don't read either local daily. They read the Wall Street Journal, and sometimes a few things in the business section of the San Jose Mercury News. They venture outdoors to shop, occasionally -- after all, online stores still haven't made the Macy's menswear department entirely obsolete -- but dislike aimless strolling and seem worried by the vast, unprotected skies of, say, Marin. (Or, as a friend of Dog Bites' once remarked of one of Dog Bites' male acquaintances: "He's like a shopping cart -- you know, he doesn't really go off the sidewalk.")

Of course, we speak here of actual techies. We leave the problem of dissecting the lifestyles of the software marketing gals and business-to-business sales guys -- for whom the world, since college ended one or eight years ago, has been more or less one continuous kegger -- to a more dedicated anthropologist; our own capacity for finding humor in the violent emesis of tequila, particularly into a Union Street gutter, has long since been exhausted.

No, here we consider the Dockers-wearing, laptop-tapping, Circadia-frequenting, Land Cruiser-driving, self-regarding CTO or something of a company with a name like eBizTech.com, who has found in San Francisco a friendly business climate and an address with a certain cachet. Because, apart from its convenient proximity to Sand Hill Road, San Francisco is, you know, really bohemian, and after all, the digital revolution is, like, a revolution.

Oddly enough, Dog Bites, through a confluence of circumstances that did not, unfortunately, result in our making any money, was a witness to part of the beginnings of the digital revolution, or at least what was for a time its own little Pravda.

Drifting through the Wiredoffices in the evening, after everyone had gone home -- and no, we did not work there -- we used to marvel internally at the Muppet Laboratories banality of the place, the sense that some senior editorial staffer could, while brushing his teeth in the morning, invent tomorrow today, come to work, issue a terse set of commands to his underlings, and have it on the newsstands by the end of next week. Except, of course, the tomorrow would consist of some $1,200 gadget that required four "D" cell batteries and a droning 4,500-word essay arguing that government was obsolete.

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