Something’s in the air, but not Independence

Just received the following email:

Today is a sad day for Independence Air.

Today we must announce that we will be ceasing scheduled service operations this Thursday evening, January 5. The financial pressures in the industry have prevailed. We have run out of time.

It has been an amazing 18 months. We set out to challenge the status quo and to re-set your expectations about air travel. We set out to introduce you to lower fares and a new level of service delivered by employees who care. Currently ranked #2 in customer satisfaction among all US airlines, we are proud that we did indeed earn your respect and loyalty. We are proud that we built a brand so universally praised by over 8 million customers. We are proud of the mark we have made.

Further information can be found on our website,

What Else Drops in Other Places?

New York:
The Ball Drop in Times Square stems from an even older ritual in England when a descending Time Ball was a popular method of signaling noon to allow pocket watches and nearby at sea ships chronometer’s to be reset daily. This tradition continues onward today in Washington D.C. at the United States Naval Observatory where it still drops a Time Ball down a flag pole every day at noon.

The latest ball measures 6 feet in diameter. The lighted Ball descends 77 feet in sixty seconds. The Ball is a geodesic sphere, six feet in diameter, weighing approximately 1,070 pounds. The Ball is covered with 504 Waterford crystal triangles, 696 multicolored Philips light bulbs, 96 high intensity strobe lights, and 90 rotating pyramid mirrors.

Atlanta: Giant Peach
New Orleans: Gumbo Pot
Mt. Olive, NC: Giant Pickle
Port Clinton, Ohio: 600-pound fiberglass walleye

Let me know if you know of anything else.

The Boredom Sets In

I have now been unemployed for 7 business days, but most of it has been over Christmas Break. Meg’s brother and sister-in-law have been here from Christmas morning through yesterday, so we have had lots of family time and lots of kid time.

Today, Meg took Peter and Grace to Charlotte so Peter can go to a Bobcats game. This is his special “Mama Time” event since Grace saw the Nutcracker ballet before Christmas. We have friends in Charlotte to stay with, so Grace went along for the ride. And to play with Griffin and Marshall.

So as it turns out, today was my first day alone. All day. Looking for a job. When you file for unemployment benefits (maximum of $442 a week before taxes), as I did last week online, apparently you have to act like someone who wants to find work, AND apply for two jobs a week. These have to be recorded on a form that the Employment Security Commission can periodically check. Technically, the wording is that one must apply in person for two jobs each week, however, that is ridiculous in the age of Monster.

In my particular instance, there will be a limited number of appropriate jobs that I am qualified for, so if I apply for all of them at once, I will have trouble applying for 2 jobs a week in month. This means, instead of pounding through the Monster listings and trying to get a job quickly, I must stretch it out so I can keep getting my $442 a week before taxes. This will get dumb.

I actually applied for 3 jobs this week. I couldn’t help myself. I was preparing an email that I meant to save until next week, but I sent it anyway. Unemployment be damned.

I arranged a meeting for next week with a friend of mine who has her own business. That will count as one of my job applications. I watched too much TV. I napped a little bit and ate pop tarts and tortilla chips. Right now I am bored.

Tonight I need to clean up. I am going out to eat with my father-in-law and it will be my first outing today. I’m not counting when I went out in my socks to get the mail. On rainy days I’ll wear shoes, but on sunny days socks will be fine.

I think I will need to have a schedule so these days don’t drive me crazy. I have a bunch of meetings to go to next week, and I should start seeing some responses to my job applications. My blog will definitely benefit from my new-found availability.

The End of the Dark Tower

I finished a story that I began nearly 20 years ago, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. It is the story of an ancient gunslinger on the ultimate quest to save the destruction of the Tower that is the nexus of all creation.

After I was done, Meg asked me what I thought. Well, it actually was a little anti-climactic. My answer was that it is just a book. My grandfather just died and I lost my job, so I didn’t really have much to say about a book. (I did enjoy it though, I just didn’t have any grand pronouncements about it).

K-LINE Official Statement

K-LINE is currently operating with a reduced staff over the next few weeks in anticipation of a sale of the assets of the company. A sale of assets to Sanda Kan, K-LINE’s primary manufacturing vendor and largest secured creditor, had been imminent throughout the fall, however, it has not happened. Another party is also interested in purchasing the company, however, it may be the end of January before anything is finalized.

Current operations include processing and shipping all orders of in stock items. Shipments continue to go out daily. All repair work has been suspended until mid-January. At that time, repairs will either be resumed or items will be returned to customers. For answers to technical questions, please email or use our toll-free fax: 877-269-4113. Please refrain from asking questions regarding product delivery, as too many things are uncertain at this time.

The final shipment of Operating Sawmills for Collector’s Club Members are on the way from China and should arrive at MDK by January 15. We expect to ship them out by the end of January.

Our hope is that the new owner of K-LINE will keep most of the employees and will continue to make trains. Both potential purchase plans agree to assume and honor the obligations of the K-LINE Collector’s Club deposits and other customer deposits made to K-LINE.

As this has been a most difficult time for K-LINE management, customers and employees, we appreciate all the support during this period and throughout our long history.

Holiday Greetings from the Edwards

Since taking a position at UNC, Senator John Edwards purchased a piece of property outside Chapel Hill, on which to build a house. Based on the location of their land, the Edwards children go to the same school as my children. And Jack is in Grace’s kindergarten class and Emma is in Peter’s 2nd grade class.

Anyway, today we received a holiday card from the Edwards with the picture at the left. And to think, we didn’t even send them one.

If you are interested: One America Committee

Christmas Vacation?

At the end of the summer a technology lawsuit drove my employer into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We have been operating all Fall as if we would emerge on the other side of this court approved scenario. There is a large debt with our primary vendor that must be addressed in any sale or move forward plan, or that vendor takes over the company and disposes of the assets.

As recently as last week it appeared that a “white knight” investor was interested in the company, and is still interested. The problem is that it would take him another 30 days before he can raise the capital to do the deal. And we have reached the limit on our current funding sources. The secured creditors and the court were unwilling to allow a new investment of cash in a secured manner. That means that anyone who puts up money now to fund operations through January would never recoup their investment. They would merely be another unsecured creditor.

Therefore, we have “ceased operations” and the employees have been “laid off due to lack of work.” Welcome to the world of euphemisms.

A court appointed reorganization specialist is coming in to evaluate the viability of the company and determine what level of operations should be sustained while looking for sale. If the company is not viable, they will move forward with a liquidation.

As a result, I now have an extended Christmas vacation. I filed for unemployment and will begin looking for a job, however, I have lots of things that I would like to do in the mean time. All those projects that pile up on your desk and in your mind are calling me. I could spend weeks and months just getting caught back up in my life. There are still boxes to be unpacked from our move nearly 3 years ago. I have many trips to the Thrift Shop in my future. I would love to go to the darkroom and print some pictures from our trip to Spain last year.

My charge is to look for a job, enjoy my time off, catch up on some things I’ve had to put off, and have dinner on the table by 5:30 every night. And as they say, I’ll keep you posted.

Holiday Letter

Seasons Greetings to one and all!

This year has been as busy as always for the Cohen family. Each year seems to get busier and busier, and to go by faster than the one before it.

Grace spent most of the first eight months of 2005 eagerly looking forward to kindergarten. After seeing her brother go off on the bus each day, she was ready for her turn to come! Her pre-school graduation was in the middle of August (Meg cried, of course), and then she started Kindergarten the week before Labor Day. She’s had a great first semester, and is really enjoying it. Grace also started soccer this fall and was quite a sight in her hot pink soccer shorts! She also started ballet lessons, which she loves. We know that she enjoys performing, wearing pink, being a ballerina and learning new things, but we’re not sure of the order! They’ve given two small shows for parents only, and will begin rehearsing for their big recital after the holidays.

Peter spent the first part of the year in first grade, and continued to do very well. Over Spring break he was able to go to San Francisco with his Granddaddy to visit with Uncle Dick and future Auntie Trina. He continued to play baseball, with Meg coaching, and basketball, but after moving up to second grade, he added football to the mix this fall. That’s tackle football. He played on the 7 and 8 year old Carrboro Falcons team. They had an undefeated season, and went all the way to the league championship. Unfortunately, they lost, but it was an exciting and hard fought game between two undefeated teams. Peter’s also still active in Cub Scouts and is busily working towards his Wolf badge. The big news on the Cub Scout front is that Jeff is one of Peter’s den leaders. There are no known photos of Jeff in his Cub Scout uniform, but we imagine there will be some one day. And surely someone will post them to the internet!

The entire family was able to take a wonderful trip to San Francisco in October for Meg’s brother’s wedding. We had a wonderful week there, and we able to fit in lots of touristy things around the wedding festivities! The wedding took place on a beautiful setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The Blue Angels were in town for Fleet Week; they were very cool, but by the end of the week we were a little tired of hearing them zoom overhead and craning our necks looking for them. We also made our traditional trip to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit Jeff’s family, which is always a lovely break.

Unfortunately, this year held some sadness, too. Jeff’s grandfather passed away the first week of December. Nat was 93 years old, and had been in remarkably good health until late this fall. We were able to see him for one last visit in Florida, and were all able to go to New York for his funeral. While his passing was very sad for us all, we feel incredibly lucky that he was part of our lives for so long, and that the kids got to know their Great-Gramps and what a special person he was. We’ll always remember his jokes, his toast-making skills, his birthday cards and the checks for a lobster dinner he sent our way. Rest in peace, Nat.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy 2006.