"How long have we been hearing about Y2K?" said Bill Fasy, general manager of Delaware Park. "They should be ashamed and say we didn't do the job. It's incompetence."
But computer failures seemed rare. "We're very happy to be bored," said Mike Goff, managing director of technology for T. Rowe Price. Most of the company's 100 computer technicians on Y2K patrol spent the day surfing Web sites in a vain search for signs of trouble.
At Tyco Submarine Systems global technical support center in Baltimore, one of the eight computer trouble-shooters spent part of his day playing solitaire on his PC. The company monitors thousands of miles of undersea fiber optic data cables, critical to global Internet traffic. "Frankly I thought we'd get more calls," said Tom Mariano, the company's technical manager.
As Western civilization's odometer rolled over to 2000, it seemed that Maryland's unprepared and blase might have the last laugh.
"I haven't done a thing because I don't think anything is going to happen," said Jackie Sandler, a homemaker in Reisterstown, hours before the new year arrived. "If we have a problem, we'll just go to my brother's house. He's the one taking this seriously. He's got a kerosene heater and has the whole house fortified."
Some airline passengers were leery of flying during the date change. With few customers, American Airlines canceled three Chicago-bound flights out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday evening, while Northwest Airlines canceled a late afternoon flight headed for Los Angeles.
Demand for air travel, said Northwest's Doug T. Killian, "has been even weaker than most airlines had predicted."
At big institutions, officials had taken a number of unusual precautions.
The Greater Baltimore Medical Center prohibited all induced childbirths before midnight, except in the case of a medical emergency. They hoped to stop couples from letting their desire for the first year 2000 baby influence medical decisions. "It's the ethical thing to do," said Dr. Michele Schwarzmann, manager of labor and delivery.
At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, about double the typical number of technicians watched for problems in the computerized ground control systems for more than 20 satellites run out of the center.
More than 90 percent of Maryland's 1,500 uniformed state troopers were on patrol last night, and 3,500 to 4,000 other state employees were on the job. Some 600 noncombat members of the Maryland National Guard were on standby.
At the Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown, more than 75 government workers crowded around 50 computers in the "war room." But after midnight, it was clear there was no war to run.
Corrections officials reported that the state's automated booking system, which handles more than 300 arrestees a day in Baltimore and four surrounding counties, converted to the year 2000 at 7 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time, with no problems.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening spent the afternoon riding in a black sedan to emergency centers at the State Highway Administration, BWI, BGE and an armory in Reisterstown.
"We have tested and retested and tested again," he said outside BGE's Woodlawn operations center. "We are 100 percent Y2K compliant. We do not anticipate any problems whatsoever."
The governor said he was relieved during his morning workout at Government House, when he saw fireworks going off in New Zealand on television. He said he lifted his weights and said: "Hooray."
"Intellectually, I knew that there wasn't much chance that anything was going to happen," he said, "but emotionally, you just get that sigh of relief that well, it's working."