Sam orders a case of her favorite mood foods, slips her ear telephone into her purse and noses her compact electric car into the curb.

Switching hours at the personal growth center has given her more flextime. Still, it's hard to be back before Luke, her 14-year-old, gets home from school.When she opens the front door, he's standing in the middle of the living room in his virtual-reality goggles and bodysuit, completely engrossed in exploring another world.

"Luke!" she yells, waving her arms to get his attention. "Do your homework now. You'll want to watch the interview with the aliens tonight and when it's over you'll be too tired to concentrate on Slovenian grammar."

Reluctantly, Luke takes off his equipment, sulks to his room and calls up the day's Eastern European languages assignment on his voice-activated computer.

Sam heads for the kitchen, where her husband is whipping up a broccoli-and-mushroom vitamin cocktail.

"Hi, hon," she says, giving him a kiss. "How was your day?"

"Fabulous," he says. "The farm landed a big contract to supply Inter-Galaxy Foods with our new breed of salmon that reduces heart disease."

He hands Sam a drink, then pauses, studying her face. "You did something different to your hair, didn't you?"

"I wondered if you'd ever notice," Sam says, smiling. "I did it about six months ago at Jean's Beauty Genes - got my hair altered."


"Genetically. They took out the gray, see? It took a while to grow in, but now it's back to its original color."

She shakes her head in mock despair.

Ten years from now teenagers will still be moody and men will still be slow to notice women's new hairstyles.

Human nature doesn't change that quickly.

But what is guaranteed to change is the way we live our daily lives.

Zapping into the future

As we approach the year 2000, trend trackers predict a rise in "millennium fever."

People get edgy on the eve of a New Year ending in a zero. The more zeroes, the more nervous, according to Paul Saffo, a research fellow at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research foundation in Menlo Park, Calif. "We're all going to have a sense the world is coming to an end."

As the fever builds, the technology that shapes our day-to-day routine will take a quantum leap.

We'll be in constant communication with one another, Saffo says. We'll have personal phone numbers that follow us wherever we go and ear telephones as small as Walkman earpieces.

We'll carry computers on our wrists that will keep track of where we are in a building. When a hall phone rings we'll know it's for us.

In five to 10 years, new classes of computers will replace the PC. One, a desktop machine, will be our household's link to the outside world.

Through it, we'll be able to report to work, order groceries, shop for clothes, pay bills, access newspaper articles, take courses, trade stocks and perform many other everyday chores.

Copying machines will get smarter. As we make copies they will automatically be filed electronically.

Computer-linked phones will give us immediate access to all sorts of information.

According to Edward Cornish, the president of the World Future Society in Bethesda, Md., "You'll be able to do your banking from the beach."

Because technology will keep us constantly in touch, a whole industry will be built around the need to protect privacy and quiet time.

"We'll worry about privacy," Saffo says, "but what will really be the issue is solitude. It will be the status symbol. If you're wealthy enough, you'll be rewarded with the privilege of solitude."

(Already there's a hotel in Tokyo where you pay extra for a room that does not have a phone or television.)

You can live longer

If, indeed, healthy living is a trend now, 10 years from now it will be an obsession - allowing us to live longer and feel better than ever before.

"Food will become increasingly like medicine," Cornish says. "People will eat foods that have been tailored to their specific bodies."

We will start distinguishing between foods we eat for fuel - which will be taken in pill form - and foods we eat for pleasure.

Chris Wolf, the publisher of the Food Channel, a trade publication for the food industry, sees a growing trend in "pharm foods."

The Japanese, for instance, believe certain foods have healing properties.

"The Japanese have instant drinks they take before work to boost their energy, during work to change their mood - they're called `mood foods' - and after work to relax them," Wolf says.

The miracle of genetic medicine

On the medical front, according to Dr. Jeffrey Fisher, the author of "Rx 2000" (Simon & Schuster), biotechnology and genetic breakthroughs will offer cures for many 20th-century ills.

- Scientists predict they will have both AIDS and cancer vaccines by the year 2000.

- We'll see the introduction of effective drugs to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's, and by 2005 we'll begin to see the reversal of the disease itself.

- We'll be able to regenerate lost brain cells through the use of proteins called brain-growth factors.

Finally, by 2005 the government-funded Human Genome Project will have identified and mapped all human genes, creating a blueprint for life.

By the year 2009, scientists predict we will be able to clone human beings.

Balance: the age of responsibility

The mantra for the next decade will be: "I shall seek a balance between work and family, discipline and indulgence, self and family."

Women in particular will recognize the reality of a balanced life, says Barbara Caplan, a director at Yankelovich Partners, a national research and marketing company in Westport, Conn.

"Superwoman as a goal has lost its steam. Women realize they are not bionic."

"We will see a reinvoking of the wisewoman archetype," says Patricia Aburdene, the co-author with John Naisbitt of "Megatrends for Women" (Villard Books).

Older women will be revered for their knowledge and experience. She predicts we will have a woman president by the year 2008, at the latest.

"One of the hallmarks of the 21st century will be self-responsibility," predicts Gerald Celente, the director of the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

"We will be forced into learning that we are responsible for the condition of the nation - each of us, individually and collectively."

One result: Everyone will be thinking green. Recycling will be federal law. Environmental control and preservation will be big service industries.

Our cars will be smaller and run on cleaner fuel. There will be better mass transportation, more high-speed trains and more bicycles.

A hard day's night

Logging 40 hours a week at the same job won't be a goal 10 years from now. Instead, workers and employers will appreciate the advantages of a more flexible job market.

Flextime, job sharing, parental leave, telecommuting (working from home via computer and fax) and working part-time while raising children will be accepted ways of doing business.

By the late 1990s, child care in some form will be as common a company benefit as tuition reimbursement.

Business and personal life will start to blur.

As a result, Judith Waldrop, the research editor of American Demographics magazine, sees an increasing importance in leisure. "There will be longer vacations," she says, "and more of them."

A new day dawning?

The millennium promises to be a breeding ground for new philosophies. We are already seeing this with the surging interest in New Age topics. Spirituality is in.

John Lowe, an anthropologist with the Cultural Analysis Group, a New York City-based research firm, expects to see a new religion forming.

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"People expect a Second Coming in millennium years," he says, "and historically, great religions develop at 500-year intervals. We're about due."

Celente and others believe the new religion will incorporate aspects of American Indian and New Age culture.

Finally, astronomer Frank Drake, who for more than 30 years has searched the stars for intelligent life and who estimates that more than 10,000 advanced civilizations inhabit our galaxy alone, believes signals from at least one other galaxy will be detected by the year 2000.

Just imagine what kind of influence that will have in shaping the 21st century.

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