Sorry to hear about your situation, Pete.
I'm sorry to say that I've had a lot of experience finding jobs. I've never been laid off. I grew up in a military service family and became accustomed to moving every 2 years. Try as I might to settle down, the longest I've ever held one job was five years. I tend to get itchy feet after two and feel the need to head over the hill and move on. My resume looks a bit like a patchwork quilt as I've really done a little bit of everything.
Have you thought about looking for a teaching job? School districts are always looking for substitute teachers. Also, if you visit your state's Department of Education site, you can look up information on CTE (career and technical education) certification. That's how I got my present job. I used my industry experience to get a provisional 3 year teaching certificate as a culinary arts instructor.
If there are no CTE jobs in your area, check out the local community college. With Le Cordon Bleu schools popping up all over the place, you might look to see if there's a school in your area.
If you're willing to relocate and have a college degree, there are always districts that will take you through an alternative certification program. Granted - there's a reason these schools are so desperate. Turnover among teachers in inner-city schools is high and having kids roll their eyes and tell you to F**K yourself makes teaching these children a challenge.
Not interested in education ... no problem.
What about becoming a personal chef? This is something you could do RIGHT NOW. All you really need to start is some advertising, some business cards, and a website to help tie this all together.
Come up with a basic menu and create a pricing structure. Get a buisness license. Put up a website to introduce yourself and share some menu options. If you hurry, you might be able to get a yellow pages advertisement in before the phone books for 2009 go to print.
Have you thought about restaurant management? Chains like Denny's, Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, and so forth are always looking for managers. Some of them, like Bob Evans, have a paid 18 week training program. Others will hire you as a manager right off the street. If you post your resume on careerbuilders.com, I can almost promise you that you'll get calls from headhunters looking for restaurant managers.
The main thing is to keep a positive outlook.
Update your resume and be prepared to tailor it for specific job applications. Hang in there and be persistent. One of the "tricks" currently being used by human resource personnel is to say they'll get back to you when they really have no intention of calling back. In some cases, when HR personnel say this, they're actually waiting to see if you're sufficiently interested in the position to make a follow up call or a drop by visit when you don't hear from them.
At one point in my life, I literally sent out 125 different job applications over a period of three months. Some friends thought I was crazy but come the end of the day, how many jobs do you really need? Just one.
In the end, I had a few choices ... a management job with Denny's, a CTE position on an Apache reservation, another CTE position in a rural town, and an elementary teacher's job outside Austin, Texas.
I'm now a culinary arts teacher in rural Arizona. :)