At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, Earl Todd plans to stop whatever he's doing to gaze out of his office window in Canoga Park.

On that night, the job of the Y2K manager at Boeing Rocketdyne's information technology division will be decidedly low-tech: He just wants to make sure the lights haven't gone out.

If all is well, he and a crew of about four or five colleagues will then pop open a bottle of sparkling cider.

Happy New Year, 2000!

As millions throughout L.A. launch into a chorus of "Auld Lang Syne," some unlucky crews will be stuck at the office to keep watch as 1999 rolls over into 2000.

"God forbid the power shuts down and the respirators shut off," said Ron Yukelson, communications director for Encino Tarzana Regional Medical Center. "It's the elements we can't control that we are taking precautions against."

Yukelson will join a team of about 30 the heads of all the hospital departments, from finance to marketing who will be on the job from 10 p.m. Dec. 31 until 2 a.m. Jan. 1.

Most say they don't mind working on what is arguably the most significant night of, well, the millennium. (Then again, their bosses might be reading this.)

Psychologists aren't so sure.

"When an organization external to the family starts dictating how a family can celebrate a tradition, that's pretty tough," said Craig Finney, a professor of leisure studies and recreation management at Cal State Northridge who works with firms to alleviate stress in the workplace.

Not taking chances

Many local companies have been making Y2K preparations for months, even years, and while the general prognosis is for a trouble-free turnover, it's considered important to have senior-level staff members on hand, just in case.

"We're not going to take any chances," said Dan Beck, a spokesman for Boeing Rocketdyne, just one of many companies that are putting managers on the New Year's shift.

If there is a worry, it's not that internal systems will fail, but that a glitch might occur in external power or other utility systems. If it does, and no one is watching the store, the results could be damaging.

Many companies are doing their best to make the night festive. Most will set up televisions in conference rooms so employees can watch the ball drop in Times Square. And many offices will hold parties. Well, sort of.


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