Are you properly armed for 2000? |

Are you properly armed for 2000?

Rick Chandler

Are you a young executive on the go? Do you fear that society will unravel when the

clock ticks over to the year 2000?

Then you may need the Self Defense Briefcase. Produced by Insight

Technologies of Napa, the briefcase comes complete with a Kevlar panel that can withstand a round from a .357 Magnum handgun. And it also offers the instant deployment of offensive weapons — options including a 200,000-volt stun gun and a law enforcement strength CS tear gas/pepper spray canister.

“I’m not going to say that the world will end because of Y2K, but you never

know what’s going to happen out there,” said Scott Cooper, who was offering the briefcase

at his booth during the Year 2000 Expo at the McEnrey Convention Center in San Jose on


“You can drop to the ground, and the briefcase will cover your whole body.

There are some nasty people out there, and if the bullets start flying, something is

better than nothing.”

While the Self Defense Briefcase may seem like a prop from the old television

series “Get Smart,” not too many people were laughing during the three-day event last

week. A better name for the proceedings could have been the Y2K Anxiety Convention, as

approximately 70 vendors gathered to hawk everything from compost toilets to computer

software — a veritable buffet of survival supplies and self-help material to help one

weather the worst catastrophes imaginable.

Also featured were talks and seminars from noted Y2K gurus such as Craig

Smith (founder of the Year 2000 National Educational Task Force), Tony

Keyes (host of “The Y2K Investor” talk-radio program) and Shaunti Feldhahn

(author and founder of The Joseph Project 2000). Topics ranged from

Christian response survival to strategies for investing in gold and silver

coins — a good hedge in case your bank collapses due to Y2K problems.

“I do get a sense that something is going to happen, and people do need to

prepare,” said

Patrick Sullivan, a computer consultant from Sunnyvale who now runs Y2K

Online — a business the specializes in storage foods. “I personally believe that we are

going to lose a lot of lives, particularly among the elderly. It’s up to us to retrofit our

skill sets to learn how to survive.”

Sullivan’s seminar was on “Breaking Y2K News,” where he discussed pro-active

strategies to contend with Y2K-related breakdowns. Among the items discussed was

Sullivan’s belief that people should invest in supplies to get them through any


“Instead of putting money under your mattress, I advise people to buy things

and put them away in a closet somewhere,” he said. “For example, I bought a bunch of Bick

lighters, put them in a bag and stored them. I’ll never have trouble lighting a fire in

an emergency.

“If something happens, I will not wait for the government to help me,” he

said. “I will plan for myself. I do not want to be evacuated to a shelter.”

The survivalist mentality seems to be fueling a great deal of the Y2K

phenomenon, and there was much of it on hand at the Expo. One could buy dehydrated food,

portable generators, water filters, solar panels, medical supplies and self-heating

meals. One could even purchase the big geometric dome tent, which comes in sizes of up to 36

feet and can “withstand hurricane-force wind,” according to co-designer Erin Whitlow.

“Some people believe that the geometric design provides certain powers, and

they use the dome for spiritual purposes,” she said. “We’re not in this for the money; we

just feel that this is a good thing to have out there in the world.”

Friday’s turnout was a bit disappointing, according to many of the vendors.

And not all on hand were believers. A contingent from nearby Sun Microsystems visited the

Expo on their lunch break, and spent much of the time snickering at the proceedings.

“They were laughing at us,” said Cooper. “They say that nothing’s going to

happen. They’re in denial.”

Many of the vendors, however, were not into this Y2K thing either. Some were

fresh from the gun show circuit, and knew little or nothing about potential year 2000

computer problems.

Take Dan Harris, for instance. He was demonstrating a line of flint fire

starters: little gadgets made of flint and magnesium that create a spark and can start a small

fire even in wet conditions. Harris probably doesn’t know or care much about Y2K — he’s

only 10 years old.

“My parents have a booth where they are selling purified water, and I got

bored and came over here,” he said. “I watched the demonstration so many times that the man

asked me to start doing it.”

Harris proved to be a natural salesman — the flint fire starter was selling


“It’s a cool contraption,” said Sullivan. “Even though I have about a hundred

Bick lighters in my closet, I went over and bought one.”

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