Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where did the time go?

It seems like it was only yesterday that I along with the vast majority of the Information Systems world were working long hours feverishly testing and retesting the program changes to accommodate the year 2000. For those who were oblivious to the problem, let me explain. I started my IS career in 1964 as a entry level programmer. Back then computer hardware was expensive and painfully limited in size and processing power. Programming techniques were honed to save space both in the processing memory and the storage available. The date fields were 6 positions packed. In the comparison depending on the requirements the year was compared and the next year was always a higher number. Even in the late 1960's it was known that when the year 2000 rolled around there would be issues. Many times we joked that we would retire in 1999. Besides, the year 2000, it was so far away.

That is the reason that 10 years ago I was working long hours. We had to complete all processing for the year 1999 and then set up the files for year 2000. We were in good shape, we had been reprogramming for the better part of 1999. I had taken all our files to a hot site in Philadelphia and loaded our system and files on their computer and completed a mandatory recovery to satisfy the auditors. Once that was accomplished I changed the date on the computer and processed as of 12/31/99 and continued processing for selected dates in January including the month end close for January 2000. Still harbingers fore casted that power grids would fail, along with other dire predictions. We geared up, the fuel tank for out emergency generator was topped off, backup mechanical systems were tested. We were ready.

The New years eve celebration for the new millennium promised to be a blockbuster around the world. The IS group were working. We monitored the New year arriving around the world. The power still worked in Australia. Our data centers in Europe continued to work as planned. The Canadian Maritime were OK, Our New Year came and we continued our testing. Every thing was going well. Needless to say we worked well into the early morning. We went for a few hours sleep and were back as folks drifted in from the various departments to do their testing. Over the next few months we encountered an occasional bump that was easily fixed.

So the biggest New Years celebration was observed by my wife home alone and I spent it with my colleagues in our Information Systems group. There are times that I wish I could have been home at midnight with my wife, Marie. At times I am somewhat bitter about missing that time with her.

This has been a decade of great change in my life. Seven grandchildren were born in this decade. My company went through change and I was retired a week after I turned 62 in 2003. My son went over my finances and it was determined that I need not work again unless I wanted too. Two weeks after retiring my wife discover a lump in her left breast. So began 10 months of surgery, chemo, and radiation. We had a little more that two good years before the cancer came back with a vengeance. we did use that time to good advantage traveling to the Rockies and national parks out west. We found out just before Christmas 2006. We kept the news to ourselves until after Christmas but the children knew something was wrong. Once again Chemo and after the first rotation cancer was worse. Eventually 6 different types of chemo were tried. Nothing slowed the advance and the chemo physically damaged her heart but not her determination. Her fight ended in August 2007.

We had been snow birds together for two years and I went to Florida alone later that year. My son urged me to place my profile on Yahoo which I did with little enthusiasm. I had a few first lunches and then quit the process. I did drive back to Rhode Island for Christmas to be with my children as best I could.

In January, I decided to send an "icebreaker" to a lady who was in the same city that I was staying in. The one thing I disliked was eating alone. I did not like it when I was required to travel on business. I was hoping to find someone who was a conversationalist to have lunch or dinner with. So I met Carol who made it quite clear that she wanted a friend for walking on the beach, an occasional lunch and nothing more. Well we became great friends exploring the Florida Panhandle. She had been in Florida over 35 years and yet, I took her to places she had never visited. I invited her to come to Rhode Island for a 4Th of July party. Apparently that made her nervous and she decided to end our dating. Our separation was short lived and she soon decided to come to Rhode Island for a week, then it was 3 weeks, then she decided to retire and come with me for the summer. We were married this past Valentine's day and we bought a home here on the Panhandle.

So in retrospect it was a decade of great change, great sorrow, and a new beginning with great happiness. Today at lunch we talked about our parents and how long they lived (my mom is 94 and going strong) and we each hope that we have at least two decades ahead of us together. I do know that time seems to be flying.

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