It's a long story. Let's go back to April of last year.....

For those who haven't kept up with the old page, I was working for Lucent Technologies, as a technician in one of their microchip plants. Around April and May, rumors of a layoff began to quietly circulate as the company's stock price plunged in a near-freefall. I've always been somewhat responsible with my money-- trying to keep a little nest egg put aside for emergencies. So, I began to elect some overtime shifts on the job. For double time, it seemed like a good idea after all. The first warning sign was already in progress-- Lucent was spinning off one business into what would become Avaya Communications. In May and June, the second warning sign began to materialize-- Lucent was considering spinning off the Microelectronics group into its own business unit. In short, we would be turned into our own company, without Lucent's deep pockets (or, what was left of them) to fall back on. As the other employees contently sat back and listened to our company CEO swear that there were no plans to spin Micro off, I began to work longer and longer weeks-- 60, 72, 84 hours-- all of it going in the bank.

I have a fairly uncomplicated financial life. I've got the usual, rent, phone, power, cable, as well as a credit card and motorcycle loan I took out in 1998, before the economy took the big flush. Hence, my goal was simple: to make sure the credit card was zero'd out, and I would always have enough cash to tame my bike loan in an emergency.

In July of 2000, the beginning of the end started with a panicked call into the cleanroom from a tech who had just left on the previous shift, and had heard the news on the radio: Lucent was spinning Micro off into it's own company (which would eventually be called Agere Systems). At that point in time, I stayed on course-- working all the overtime I was offered. I also began work on my fallback plan. I knew that the microelectronic industry wasn't going to be my "career," just a stepping stone into the IT field. Lucent has an excellent tuition reimbursement program, and I had been taking advantage of it to take some electronic engineering classes-- to move up the ranks in the plant.

When the spinoff news broke, I made a change in plans. I started working on taking classes in computer programming and systems administration. As the situation began to degrade, I realized the urgency of the potential of a layoff, and redoubled my efforts-- taking 18 hours of classes this past Spring, while working a full 40 hour week (in January, all overtime was cancelled-- another sign that the company was getting desperate). Granted, by that point in time, overtime was impossible, as my academic load took up all my free time.

In spite of the accusations of "drama queen" and "melodramatic" that I heard from co-workers during most of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001, my efforts were ironically rewarded on April 3, 2001, when I reported in for my shift, and was herded into my "termination seminar." As my fellow nay-sayers looked at eachother in disbelief, and panicked about what to do with themselves, I got to sit back in smug content. My credit card has a zero balance, my bike is nearly paid off, and I've got a small nest egg to get me through the summer. It's an ironic reward, but one certainly worth it considering how bad things could have been if I didn't prepare for it.

Unfortunately, when time becomes scarce (as you'll see appearing as a common motif in the "why" article), something has to give. Behind the scenes, I continued work on Bronzebear-- filling orders that came in, and tending to what email requests I could. Unfortunately, I never had time to do another page update. And in retrospect, I suspect that the resulting rush of orders would have overwhelmed me anyhow.

After realizing that I'd spent too much time neglecting Bronzebear in favor of preparing for the possible layoff, I came to the conclusion that liquidation was the best solution for the business. The reasons are wide and varied, and available on the "why liquidate" link. But, I'd like to state something up front:

While there are many reasons for liquidating, there isn't a defining event for doing so. Contrary to rumor, I wasn't "forced out" or "shut down" by competetion. Life simply threw me some curve balls that, in working through them, gave me time to realize that perhaps the resulting baggage that Bronzebear brought with it wasn't what it was cracked up to be.

I'd like to take a moment to thank both my customers, and friends who believed in me during the last two years. With every failure, we grow a bit as people. We take some seeds of knowledge and experience for the future, and quietly plant them. I've learned a lot by starting and running Bronzebear. I've met some wonderful people. I've met some not-so wonderful people, and I've learned who my real friends are in this fandom group.

.....And at this point in time, I just want to liquidate these books, so I can get my living room and dining room back *grins*

Matt Henry
April 28, 2001