Are you properly armed for 2000?
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
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
“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
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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