Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween

Halloween is the gay holiday. It was tailor-made for gays. This is the season where the creativity is at its height: how to make a costume as skimpy as possible yet still accurately convey the theme in mind. Halloween brings out the transvestite in everyone including straight men. Last year at Brian's party, Jordan came as a French Maid: short black dress, white apron and cap, red lipstick and hairy legs. As the night progressed, everyone got to see what he had under that short skirt--I admit it, I peeked.

Halloween also brings out of the closet all the weird fetishes. I don't consider leatherwear a costume unless you're trying to be the leather guy in the Village People. One year, I was at Roscoe's when some master brought his "human dog" who was wearing a leash attached to a dog collar, a skimpy thong and not much else. Lots of uniform fetishes as well: sailors, cops, UPS delivery men seem to be the most popular. As a general rule though, I think that if something is in your closet and you wear it on any other day besides halloween, it is not a costume.

Today, we have to clean up and decorate for Brian's party. We were waiting to take advantage of any sales on halloween decorations. It would be so cool if we get a fog machine ($20 from Target)...

We are expecting an excellent turnout from the UIC front. All the Psych departments' grad students and their ambiguous sexuality in one room. I can't wait to see who makes out with whom. Last year, some straight dude who was was hitting on every gay guy in the room. Nobody batted an eyelash...

Mood| Amused

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The O.C. is back!!!

My new favorite show of the season is back after a brief hiatus on its new timeslot at 8pm. The unfortunate thing is that it is now opposite my other favorite tv show Angel. This episode deals with the cliffhanger from the last episode where Marissa was found in an alley unconscious after swallowing a bottle full of pills and chasing it with alcohol. I f**king love this show. It has the same kind of witty repartee, one-liners and cultural references as Gilmore Girls, but at a tad slower pace. Also, it has a more 90210 kinda vibe to it--white-collar crime, alcoholism, homoeroticism. Okay, I made up that last part, but there is kinda something homo about Seth being so into Ryan. I guess it's like a same-sex crush that I hear teenagers have, like on their coaches or something. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if one day, Seth, in a drunken stupor, finds himself kissing and hugging Ryan.

Ryan is adorable and like it or not people, he dresses like me--except I don't usually wear wife-beaters under my hoodie/jacket combo. I swear, we must be separated at birth because he wears the same v-neck shirt/leather wristband/jeans look that I frequently wear.

Family Ties

Jon, my older brother sent me a link to which is a site where you can send SMS messages to cellphones via the web in the Philippines. "Chika" is the filipino word for "chat" or "gossip." It seems to work. I sent my mom a text message last night via the web and this morning when I logged on, there was a message waiting for me. It looks like she sent it via her cellphone. This is actually pretty awesome, because I cannot do that on my cellphone using T-mobile's website. It's only one-way messaging using T-mobile.

Mom's message said that last night was the 3rd death anniversary of my paternal grandfather. My grandfather was basically the last family member my dad had left. His mother and my uncle William died when my dad was still in his early twenties. I never knew either of them, I wasn't born yet when they passed away. His older brother Quentin died a few years ago and my grandfather died shortly after. The death of my grandfather affected dad greatly, according to mom. I agree, prior to his death, when I called home, he would be very chatty though brief. Now, when I call, he usually will say "Hi" and pass the phone to my mom.

When AIM first came out, my brother Jon set my mom up with a free account and she would send me IMs at work (during their evenings, it is 13 hours ahead in Manila) and we would chat about stuff and usually she would be chiding me for not being married yet. But after I got the job with Akzo, it stopped because they had a firewall that prevented IMs. Prior to that, my mom would write long e-mails all the time. These days I don't hear from her a few weeks at a time. Probably because we don't write that often. I am not yet sure whether she reads my online journal even though I sent her the link...

I am feeling a lot better today. I am hoping to work on a Business Plan for us. I am thinking about going to the Gay Caribou to work on this.

Peter's LiveJournal is up. Check it out.

Mood| Curious

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

It's All Relative

Yummy Victor Garber guest stars in "It's All Relative" as a party planner who is in the closet about being straight. The show is really not all that funny, however I think it does have the potential of being good. I think that while the parents' may harumphf about each other, they back down way to easily for any of us to take their prejudice for real. I think that when the show finally decides that they don't have to make excuses for the misbehaviors of either parents, it would be a much better show.

Photos from the show here.

Playmakers--The Outing

Spoiler Alert! Dan Petronijevic plays closeted football player Thad Guerwitcz (#83) in ESPN's Playmakers. When Thad gets outed by his ex-boyfriend, he has to make a choice whether to go on Injured Reserve or come out. However, at the end of the episode we don't know whether Guerwitcz will be coming back or not. Pretty good episode, there are a few naked butt shots :-) Guerwitcz is superHOT! My other favorite guy on the team of course is Olcyzk played by Jason Matthew Smith.

CHECK IT OUT: Dan Petronijevic in the shower from this episode

Site Updated / Missing Friends

Feeling a little better today. Have to work on my paper that is due tonight.

I updated the site with a little bit more formatting in the "Likes" section and added some links. I put in a temporary profile in yahoo and added some photos (yes, they are cheesy & slutty) until I can set up a real gallery. Added a link called "Bookmark" for you to save this page to your favorites.

Friendster seems to be working a little faster today. Recently I found someone who I used to go to college with in Manila who has 300+ friendsters. I have been trying to check them out to see if I see anybody I went to school with and what they looked like. However, Friendster being the shitty site that it is, freezes up when I try to browse anybody with more than 20 friends.

I have been obsessing lately about what other people I have grown up with have done with themselves. I have been googling random people I went to high school or college with. I have been wondering what some high school crushes look like now, what they've done with their lives. Surprisingly, I have not really been successful in finding anyone. I feel like somehow those people don't exist anymore, that if I can't find them in Google, that they don't exist. Even in Ringo, where a lot of Filipinos have been joining a la Friendster, I have yet to find anyone that I actually know.

Mood| Artistic

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The No Milk Manifesto

Whoa, look what I found. Reasons why you shouldn't drink milk.

True Porn Clerk Stories

Totally Funny--check it out: True Porn Clerk Stories

An excerpt:

"The polite fiction of the porn section is that, while people do generally use porn for the purpose of masturbation, there is no reason to believe that this particular customer will be doing so. He could be using them for his Master's thesis. Hell, he may not get around to watching them at all. We all like to believe that. When it becomes all too clear to everyone involved that said customer did, in fact, not only lube up, watch the tape, stroke himself to orgasm, and then grab the goddamned thing without even taking the basic courtesy of washing his goddamned hands first, we all get uncomfortable..."

Another One:

"Porn Trance

This is the odd, timeless zone that people go into when studying the boxes. Lone porn renters go into it immediately and resent being pulled out.

We have two rooms of floor-to-ceiling boxes. People in the Porn Trance methodically look at every single one in their section. They don't realize they've just rented new releases because they didn't realize they'd moved around the entire circumference of the room. They don't hear announcements over the Voice of God mike until you get drastic. ("YOU! In the red jacket! With the baseball cap! YOU! We're closing! BRING UP YOUR MOVIES RIGHT NOW OR YOU DON'T GET TO RENT ANYTHING AT ALL!") People literally spend hours in the Porn Trance. I see people look at box after box for two hours at a stretch all the time, and three hours is not uncommon. These are the same people that tell you they're in a hurry when they hit the register.

I think finding the right video is such a primal, visceral thing that people really can't think about time or comprehend verbal announcements the first time around. They've gone back down to the reptilian brain and it takes a few seconds for those higher lobes to kick back in. Or maybe, since to choose the right tape they have to sort of mentally masturbate to it, they have also mentally locked themselves in the bathroom and all other stimulus is just so much faint knocking. I don't know. I haven't asked."

Campbell's Birthday

Today is the day I took home my cat, Campbell from the shelter. She was about 3 weeks old when I got her in 1994. She's 9 years old now. She's a black/brown torti with golden eyes. She was very tiny when I brought her home and I picked her because she was very independent. She is still pretty independent and only deigns to come and sit on my chest and knead when I am relaxing on the couch. She likes being carried around, but will hiss at you if you pet her the wrong way. She is very smart and does some very peculiar things like knock on the bedroom door in the morning when she is hungry and awake and try to turn the knob to open it (she has actually done it successfully a few times). She can also open the bifold closet doors which is where our clothes hamper is and sleep in it. She likes chewing on plastic bags and knows her name.

Sloane, double-agents--wha?!?

Spoiler Alert! Watched last Sunday's episode of Alias on TiVo last night. Ok, I had thought that this season would be less confusing now that Sidney and Jack are not a double-agents anymore. Although what happened the last two years of Sydney's life is still a mystery after she woke up in an alley two episodes ago, that was fairly straight-forward. Now, Sloane gets captured by The Covenant and to save his own life, he brokers a deal with them to infiltrate the CIA. The Covenant doesn't know that the CIA already has a relationship with Sloane however. This puts Sloane in position to play double-agent just like Sydney did when she infiltrated the evil SD-6 which Sloane was the head of. This is crazy turn of events. I love it...

Sick & Unemployed

Well, today I am still under the weather, cough still around, but maybe a tad better. I think I have a mild flu. I am hoping that it will go away soon. For awhile of course I was paranoid that it was meningitis due to the current outbreak in Chicago. Marisa told me that a symptom of meningitis is when you can't touch your chin to your chest when you're lying down. This is because your menenges (the covering of your brain and your spinal cord) gets swollen that you cannot bend your neck. This is why the neck stiffness is a telling symptom. So, for the last couple of days I had been touching my neck to my chest like every hour just to make sure my menenges is not swelling. I was also worried whether I should be taking medication because it might mask the symptoms--how can I feel a meningitis headache when I am taking acetaminophen?

This actually reminds of a friend of mine, Mary Jane Lu, who died of meningitis in the early 1990s. When I first moved here to Chicago, she had just moved to Boston to pursue her MBA. She had been living there for a couple of years when I heard that she died and her family had to come from Manila to take her remains home. I remember being very sad when I heard that because "Maj" went to grade school and high school with me. She went to college with Peter and they were pretty tight. She was a very promising student, tall, attractive, rich, top of her class. She was 24. Her death was a shock because it was so random.

I also had to call the Unemployment Office to get certified for the first time. The instructions said that I had to use a touch-tone phone and cannot use a wireless or cellphone because it wouldn't work. All the phones at home are wireless and I was just about to throw a regular phone out last week but was (luckily) lazy enough to procrastinate. Actually, that's not entirely true. One of the reasons I did not throw out the phone was because I don't like the idea of throwing out something that works perfectly fine. After Peter moved out to his own place a few years ago, he left a bench press machine in my storage. It's still there collecting dust even though he had told me to throw it out. Joe finally decided to take it off my hands (it's waiting, Joe, come pick it up).

However, I am not sure I will be getting a check this period because I still have some vacation time coming from work. I probably won't get a check for another month.

Mood| Sick

Monday, October 27, 2003

Spoke too soon?

Looks like I may have spoken too soon. The new book in the Lestat series by Anne Rice follows Lestat trying to save the Taltos. Forgive me, but this sounds dreadful. First of all, if I were to rank the worst books written by Anne Rice they would be:

1. Violin
2. Blackwood Farm
3. Feast of All Saints
4. Lasher
5. Taltos

Both "Lasher" and "Taltos" are about a race of superhumans called the Taltos who I really don't care about. These two books are actually sequels to the intriguing "The Witching Hour." I really enjoyed "The Witching Hour," but the sequels completely ruined this book for me. Now, with "Blood Canticle," Anne Rice brings together her vampires, the Mayfair witches and the Taltos into the same universe. God save us all.

Read my Listmania of some books I recommend.

Kaydee vs Beef Jerky

This episode of Jane's World cracked me up because it reminded me of Kaydee and how she broke down and ate beef jerky after years of being a vegetarian. What do you do when you're a vegetarian and you don't really like vegetables? Kaydee won't eat weird vegetables either, like cilantro. ;-)

I am so weird about meat. I generally don't like hunks of meat. I like my meats cut up into very small pieces or processed like bacon, hamburger, sausages, and yes, Spam. I prefer chicken nuggets over a chicken breast filet. But Brian will probably tell you that it's weird that I eat fish with the head still on...

Another Quiz

Squirrel cheese. Num.
You are a normal rock!

::Which rock personality disorder (from the Zoloft commercial) should you have? (Results contain pictures!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmmn. Somehow I thought I would at least come out as quirky or something, but apparently I am "normal". I am sorta disappointed. Specially since I am a compulsive pack-rat.

When I started my last job, the previous person had left two Pez dispensers on the shelf. I received subsequently, another 2 from a friend at work who saw the ones I had on the shelf and thought I was a collector. I then went online to eBay and bought 8 more to complete the set that I had (they were holiday-themed). I do not even like Pez candy! Now I have 25 of them. People think I am some kind of Pez afficionado.

Another example: I kept buying Anne Rice's new novels in hardcover whenever they come out even though the last good book of hers I read was like 10 novels ago. I think after reading the absurd "Blackwood Farm," which I did not even bother to finish because it was so terrible, I am finally free of this particular obsession.

Take the Quiz

Paul Inc.

Just talked to a lawyer concerning franchise contracts and incorporating myself. Some comments:

1. Most franchisors are not flexible with changing the contracts. He had instances where the franchisor did not even return calls.

2. He may quote a fixed fee later on based on what the negotiations may look like but the fees depend on the type of work for franchise negotiations.

3. He suggests an "S" corporation instead of an LLC because an "S" corporation is cheaper to do. Tax-wise, they are similar in structure. To simply incorporate ourselves, he says that it would take $1,000 (YIKES!). It may be more if we want to negotiate dissolution and other stuff.

4. We could be incorporated in a day, if we needed.

Me Against the Music

After watching the video a couple of times (you can catch it on "Fresh" on VH1), I've decided that I really enjoy the song. The video is not really remarkable except that Madonna is in it. Britney's videos are fun and easy on the eyes but are not edgy like Christina or Pink's videos. She looks pretty much the same as she always does and her dance moves are cool but not outstanding. I think that her "...Baby One More Time," and "Oops...I Did It Again" are probably her most groundbreaking videos. What do you think?

Check out the cool photos from the video from

Happy Birthday, Mike

Mike T. turns 35 today. Many Happy Returns!

Still Sick

Actually, I think I got sicker today because of going out last night. Shoulda stayed in and rested instead.

Mood| Cold


Added a Tagboard for online chatting fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Which Personality Disorder Do You Have?

obsessive compulsive

Which Personality Disorder Do You Have?
brought to you by Quizilla

Take the Quiz

Wet Cats

Just gave a bath to both Cordy and Campbell because Cordy was smelling kinda rank. Cats are normally very clean, but for some reason Cordy was not-so-fresh smelling. Although she is nearly 3, Cordy has never had a bath before. She put up a lot of fight and scratched my toe. After awhile, she calmed down a little, heart still racing. Brian had to help me bathe her. Campbell was more calm, although she was very tense. Campbell had had baths before so she probably knew what to expect. We towelled them dry, but since we cannot get them completely dry, they are looking a little like wharf rats...

Rising Star

Got a yellow star on my ebay profile now!

Angel Eyes

Taped "Angel Eyes" with Jennifer Lopez and Jim Cavaziel on Tivo and watched it this morning while puttering around the house. At first, I couldn't figure out whether it is a romantic comedy or a suspense/mystery. I guess at the end, it was more like a romantic drama. Jim Cavaziel was pretty good in it, subtle. Jennifer on the other hand was chewing up the scenery. She looked good though.

Franchise Dream

I had a dream last night that I was in a restaurant and in the next table was Dave and Bob. We got to talking and somehow I found out they were also looking into CB. I panicked because I felt that somebody else may come into Chicago and start staking out territories. Right now there are only 3 locations, with another one going up. There is only one in the city proper, the other 3 are all in the suburbs.

I guess, I am very worried about making the wrong decision. I am worried that this may be a good opportunity and I should act on it. The scary part is that it may be a long process to get started and I may not have the finances to last the whole way...

Mood| Anxious

Scary Movie 3

Went to see Scary Movie 3 with Brian and Marisa last night and it was pretty dumb, mostly spoofing "The Ring," "Signs" and "8 Mile." There were some funny parts though, specially when Regina Hall was pretending to be dying. Simon Rex doing the Eminem shtick was pretty lame. I think what was the lamest part was when the a whole bunch or rappers and Macy Gray all showed up to help fight aliens and ended up shooting each other gangbanger style.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Letter from Mom

Got a letter from Mom today about her trip to China with my dad and their friends. She told me about a dream she had:

"Last night, I dreamt that I was having a meal with your godmother and Peter's godmother Rita, then I suddenly saw you and Peter eating at another table near us. I was so surprised and walked to you and asked you why you didn't tell me you were coming home. Then I woke up.

Is it because the two of you have left us for so long that even in dreams, I can't help but miss you...?"

It has been tough for my Mom after Peter and I left Manila to move to Chicago. It's been 11 years since I left and sometimes I feel like its just yesterday. The tough part about being away from your family is that when you are feeling scared or lonely, or just needing moral support, you know that you have to rely on yourself even though you know that Mom and Dad would be behind you. I miss you, Mom.

Mood| Nostalgic

Sore Throat

Feeling a little under the weather today. Mild tickle in my throat last night has turned into a full-fledged frog.

Although I am not working and weekend should cease to have any meaning, I find that this is not the case. During the week, I have been either doing stuff for the franchising research, my job search or just obsessing about being unemployed. The weekends are a time for me to take a break from these worries because I could leave them for Monday. Plus, I only get to see my friends on the weekends. I don't know if I weren't working on the research for the franchise whether I would be more depressed or not.

Mood| Sick


Went to Madrigal's tonight with Mike T. for his birthday. He had never been to a strip club before and he enjoyed the place although he had been a little shy with tips. He had to wash his hands when he "accidentally" touched the guy's thang...

This is the guy he touched ------------------>

Friday, October 24, 2003

Naperville, Again

Went to CB today and spent about 4 hours just hanging out, trying to get some conversations with Sally the owner and Chuck the regional CB consultant. Chuck was there this week to roll out the Quizno's style hot sandwiches that they were introducing. Brian and I tried a few of them out and they were very outstanding. Much better in my opinion than the Quizno's sandwiches I had before.

Found out a few more things from Sally today concerning finances:

The monthly costs were about $20,000 broken down as follows:

$5,000 lease
$5,000 salaries
$10,000 other

From previous conversations with her, she mentioned that she had a staff of about 12 people and she pays them only $6 a hour plus tips. Right now, they are grossing about $10,000 a month, so obviousy she has negative cash flow if her cost is $20,000/month. She also mentioned that about the 30% of the selling price goes to the cost of sales. Obviously some calculations probably need to be done to back into the actual cost of sales.

If her gross sales are $10,000, then at 30% cost of sales, it would be $3,000. This means that $7,000 must be going to expenses other than lease and salaries. She mentioned that this could include the electricity, water. I guess it could also mean insurance, royalties, etc. Peter and I probably have to figure this out a little further. Obviously, she may have been generalizing too much or double counting. However, the $20,000/month figure is what she probably thinks is her break-even point.

Also had some conversation with Chuck who used to be a franchisee and area manager for Quizno's before going to CB and looks like he had some very bad experiences with them which is why he ended up selling his franchises even though they were making good money. All in all, I would say this is making be much more leery of Q.

Lots more thinking and evaluating to do...

Mood| Accomplished

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I bought a book on Cascading Style Sheets today because I had been so frustrated with the format of this weblog. It is partially to blame for my lack of posting even though there have been some more developments in the franchising research. I am not sure yet whether the book (Designing CSS Web Pages by Christopher Schmitt) is good or not. It seems useful, but maybe a little bit too tech-geek style. Anyway, this weblog still needs a lot of work, and the fonts are so screwed up.

Mood| Frustrated

Monday, October 20, 2003

Peter found this information about a CB owner looking to sell.

Had a good long conversation with Sally today concerning CB. Got there around 945am. There were about 18 people who came in to buy coffee or eat food. I stopped counting at 11am.

I also had a talk with Kurt today about my meeting with Sally.

Here are some of my findings:

1. They opened about 6 months ago and are not yet cash flow positive. They are still trying to cover expenses.
2. She hopes to be profitable by 1 year
3. It took 6 months to build out her location (I don't remember if this included lease negotiations)
4. When she was going through their buildup, CB did not have any contractors which were available in Chicagoland area. The ones that CB had contracted were going to charge them extra for travel and stuff. Therefore she went out and got her own contractor. Kurt assures me that they now have national contractors in place which may not have been available to Sally two years ago.
5. She did not go through financing with CB. It took her 4 months to secure a loan. Kurt says that they now have 3rd Party Lenders lined up for franchisees. He said that the lenders will not have a problem with providing the loan provided you have the $300K net worth required to secure it.
6. It cost her $180K to build out her location (electrical was $45K, lighting about $45K, signage $2K)
7. It cost another $170K for the equipment.
8. She provides free wireless internet through a satellite dish, costs her about $150/month.
9. She negotiated to have a 7-5-5 renewal. She negotiated a maximum of 3% increase in royalties.
10. She has a protected territory that included nearby western suburbs.
11. She had a lot of leeway in the decor of the location including carpet, wall color, furniture, lighting, artwork.
12. CB did not provide location assistance or lease negotiations. Kurt mentions that they do.
13. CB is rolling out new Quizno's style hot sandwiches. Sally just purchased the oven to do this. This is going to be rolled out this Wednesday. Sandwich prices are going to be in the $5.25 to $6.50 range.
14. Kurt mentions that their biggest competitors are Barney's and It's a Grind besides the obvious Starbucks.
15. Kurt mentions that Gloria Jean's have not yet seemed to perfect the standalone store.
16. He said that 80% of CB's locations are mall locations and not cafes. However, cafes are possibly going to account for 50% of their locations in 4-5 years.
17. He mentioned that one of the locations negotiated a protected area that was possibly up to a 20 minute drive away. So this seems to be a point of negotiation.
18. Kurt indicated that CB is moving to expand their operations from daypart to more a lunchtime or dinner menu.

Sally mentions that she was very happy with her experience with CB and has a good relationship with the JoAnn the company owner. This is possible that since there are not that many standalone stores yet, they are closely monitoring her progress as they can learn from it.

All in all, I had a good feeling about CB, but that maybe they still need more experience in non-mall locations and possibly expanding their resources into the Chicagoland area.

Mood| Optimistic
Alias last night was pretty awesome. I really think that Jack Bristow is the hottest. The intensity. That gaze. Wow.
I got an e-mail from Mom today. They are back from their trip to China and HK. Mom reported that she felt weak and tired a couple of times. I am of course extremely worried about her and I feel that I have to come and visit her in December. The trip would be at a difficult time because of the timing and my finances, but I think that I have to come and at least spend some time with her and maybe convince her that she needs to take the doctor seriously.

I also gave her the URL to this journal. I have not given it out to her previously because I felt that maybe she would not be able to handle the unvarnished truth about Peter and me. I have already said in many many words (though not using the three letter word) that we are not straight. I am hoping that maybe that this journal will show that even though we are gay, we are not misfits or lonely or weird or things like that. Mom's concern is that of every parent who has a gay child: whether or not we will have families of our own. My mom wants us to be settled down and with kids.

Having kids is a big responsibility. Because having kids are something that queers have to consciously make a decision, no, a resolve (not to mention finances) to have, it is not as easy to have them. I wonder, if every parent has to make the same kind of decision we have to make, whether there would be as many kids born? Maybe there would be less child abuse in the world...

Mood| Worried

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Can't wait to see "Pieces of April" with Katie Holmes.
Rented Confidence last night and enjoyed it. Brian, Joe and I were probably at the video store arguing about what movie to rent for about 30 minutes. The problem is, we've seen different movies already and makes it difficult to find one we've all not seen. Also neither of them wanted to rent "Boat Trip"

The movie was pretty much a con movie, the question is who is conning whom? The movie also plays a con on the audience at the very first scene. I think that Edward Burns was very cute in the movie, I have a big crush on him. Rachel Weisz was a good foil for him. Frankie G. was Brian's boyfriend. Brian didn't think that Edward Burns was cute. I think that even though the movie was about con men, there were honor among thieves and that Edward Burns' team couldn't have been as successful as they were had they not be good friends as well. One of the subtext of the movie was that instead of taking off when they had the chance after one of their friends was killed by the local mobster, they go avenge his death instead. Quite enjoyable.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Signed up for info for Schlotzsky's franchise info. Peter and I had to go there last night before going to the Quizno's seminar because they had no food, which I thought was kinda sucky. If it were me doing the seminar, I would have at least tried to give some food demos or something.


Brian and I went on a roadtrip (haha) to Naperville to go see the CB location there. I was pleasantly surprised at the setup. The place look 1000% better than the place in Lincolnwood and it had a very clean and upscale look about it. They had free internet connections, food and pastries and the premium coffee drinks. The decor, while a little bland (because of the light wall paint), was certainly quite attractive. Brian actually liked it more than I did, he didn't feel the decor was too bland at all. I liked the furniture, the floor covering and the shelving units they had. The light fixtures were very upscale looking, using spotlights. The ceiling design was also kinda nice. The accessories they have to sell were also nicer, not the crappy mugs that Lincolnwood has. All in all, I am very encouraged. I talked to Sally, the owner and mentioned that I would like to come by and talk to her next week and she said she would be happy to chat.

We got there at about 1130am and there were already about 4 people there, plus within the half hour or so, another five people came in. Most of them ordered drinks and food. For a Friday, with their location, I think it is doing decently. They were at a strip mall in Naperville which had just pretty much a Dominicks as an anchor. I am planning to go back Monday morning to see what the breakfast crowd is like.

While I was there, Mike Tocco gave me a call and mentioned that he will be going back to Michigan to dog-sit his parents' dog. He said that he's heard of CB (it has more of a presence there) and he will go to a store and give me a review. I actually also asked him to take pictures (jokingly) but he said he may do it. That would be cool.

Mood| Productive
Saw this week's Angel where he saves a girl who just turned into a werewolf from a group of people who pay big bucks to eat exotic meat. They were going to eat the girl while she was a werewolf. The thing is, they have to eat her alive because once a werewolf is dead, they revert back to their human form. This episode also dealt with Spike's tenuous hold on the corporeal realm. He was basically fading away. Good show tonight.
Peter and I went to the Quizno's Seminar. It was your basic dog-and-pony show. They showed us some promotional videos and that was pretty much it. However, these were what was very interesting about the Quizno's franchise:

1. Their training is 2 weeks in Chicago, and 1 week in Denver. Each location has to have a Quizno's certified manager at all times.

2. They have a "grand-opening-in-a-box" which basically gives you all the promotional materials you need for the grand opening. The video seemed to indicate that these included the signage, printed collateral, coupons for mailing, a inflatable balloon thing and other similar promotional material.

3. They seemed to have the franchising part nailed down with all the training materials all set up. I get the sense that you really got a lot of training to get started with the biz.

4. It sounds like they are very concerned about getting you up and running very quickly and that they have a team of real estate people that are going to help you find and negotiate a site as soon as you sign on the dotted line.

However, there were a couple of "odd" things that Peter and I also noticed:

1. The growth information they were touting related more to the growth of Quizno's as a whole, not same-store growth sales.

2. According to a recent franchisee at the seminar, he didn't negotiate the terms of the franchise. Apparently, he didn't even engage a lawyer. When Peter asked whether he negotiated, the guy indicated that there was no negotiation.

3. They indicated during the seminar that they were looking to open 100 stores this year. Since it is already October, I wondered if this meant that they had 100 more stores to open or that was the target for the year. I am particularly concerned if Quizno's is more interested in selling franchises than selling sandwiches--although they don't have to be mutually exclusive. I guess the concern is that similar to the complaints (I've heard) from McDonald's franchises, there are too many stores in a small area. I'd be afraid that after I open my store, that there will be another one down the street in a year.

4. The guy who was running the show was kinda smarmy.

I guess there seems to be a lot of good reasons why Quizno's has good potential--they have their act together. But Peter and I are worried about whether in the long term, the aggressiveness could be a problem. Just like Khalid said before when he bought his Subway franchise, he became upset when Subway expanded so quickly that his own store was affected.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Unemployment Office

Came back from the Unemployment Office. The whole application process took about 2 hours. The people were nice and helpful. There weren't many people today, I suspect since it is a Thursday morning.

The whole process consisted of basically filling up forms and setting up a profile on their jobseeker site. I actually applied for 2 jobs while I was there through the jobseeker website. The forms were routine: name, address, last job. You need to bring ID to verify your social security number. Then there was a video you had to watch concerning what benefits you can get.

Based on my unemployment insurance, I am eligible probably for the maximum benefit which is $331 per week. I guess this would be about $1300/month which is decent. I can also work up to half my weekly benefit, or about $150 without losing my unemployment insurance.

All in all, I guess it was pretty easy to get through. There are a few requirements you have to fulfill to keep receiving the unemployment including making a record of jobs that you have applied for. This requirement is to prove that you are actively making an effort to find a job. Also, you need to phone in every two weeks to an automated system to verify that you are still eligible for the insurance.

I am planning to probably work a few hours a week just to see how the various different franchises work. Obviously, I cannot work too much otherwise, I lose my benefits.
So Smax and Robin (Toybox) go on a quest on Smax #3. The series is very whimsical, very funny but has some gravity to it as well. Like most fairy tales, there is a tragic event that sets our hero on to a quest. I am really enjoying this comic.

Cubs News

The news this morning is all about how the Cubs lost. Brian can't bear to watch the TV.

I am going to the unemployment office today. Wonder what that will be like.

Mood| Indifferent

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Cubs Lost

Brian is coming home from Roscoe's where he was watching the game. I think he may be upset.

Mood| Crushed
This is the last time I will be typing on my work computer...
New episode of Kyle's Bed&Breakfast today. I don't know how I got hooked into this comic strip. It is really quite cheesy. At least it is not as cheesy as Queer as Folk.
Joe sent me a cool beatgreets card for my last day. It was an animated e-card with The B-52's singing "Rock Lobster." I love this song. This song is one of the most important songs in my life. I first heard this song when I was about 12ish, on my first trip to the US and Canada. When my family went to stay with my cousins in Toronto, this was the number 2 song on the Canadian charts (number 1 was "Heart of Glass" by Blondie). My cousin Richard has about 16 or 17 then, and he was crazy about this song and was always singing it with a goofy look on his face. I went out and bought that tape and also "Wild Planet" afterwards. I have been a fan of the B-52's since then. Even moreso later when I found out that they were a queer band. I guess, even though I did not have a name for what I was feeling then, I knew I was queer as well...

That trip really changed my life because since then, I knew that someday I would come and live here in the US.

This is what the card said:

"hope your last day is a smooth and quick one and i know better things await you.

Mood | Thankful
Last day today. Petra already asked me out to lunch so I guess I'll stay until after lunch. I will be spending the morning working on my paper that's due tonight.

Last night Cubs lost 8-3 to the Marlins. A fan got overzealous and caught a ball that Alou shoulda caught. The Marlins scored 8 points in the top of the eigth inning. Crazy crazy crazy.

Brian is on tenterhooks and biting his nails. Hope the Cubs win tonight...

Mood | Blah

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I read this article at Salon about how families are going into bankruptcy not because they are spending way to much money on lattes, but because they are counting too much on the double income from both father and mother. In the past, when moms usually stayed at home, there was only one income to count on, when dad lost his job, mom could go out and work while dad looked for another job. This lessened the financial impact on the household.

Now that a lot of families have two incomes and rely on the entire amount for their financial well-being, if either of the parents lose their job, they are more at risk for bankruptcy. This is because their higher income has come to mean higher fixed costs such as mortgages, loans, insurance, medical, education which are harder to maintain if one partner loses a job. Whereas, when only one parent worked, both parents could go out and make up for the difference in income.

I guess what I understand is, just because you are getting married, you should not use the combined incomes as a basis for your budget because it makes your family more prone to risks.
W&G from last Thursday wasn't that funny. Karen didn't like Leo because she didn't think he was funny. The whole episode was about Grace trying to convince Karen to like Leo. Well, Karen wasn't convinced and neither am I. The best part of the show was when Karen said that she would go "poop." Will & Mom as roommates has a lot of comedy potential though.

Also on Tivo was Scrubs. I LOVE THIS SHOW. This is like, the best comedy on TV. This show is probably more gay-friendly than W&G. The show doesn't deny that there is a homoerotic subtone to JD and Turk's friendship and in fact celebrates it. Turk and JD openly acknowledge that they were going on a "mandate." Turk goes to say that his homophobia and discomfort wasn't because of the male-male sex, but because he doesn't know how to relate to other men. Great show.
Lousy weather today. Raining. Wet.

Waited 30 minutes for the 135 LaSalle bus.

Got to work and had a short meeting with Scott, the HR Manager and discussed the terms of my severance. It was pretty quick. I guess the only thing left now is to do the handover of equipment, keys, etc. tomorrow.

Mood | Blah

Monday, October 13, 2003

Had a field-trip with Peter on Saturday to check out CB in the Lincolnwood Mall. The place was horrible. It was a glorified free-standing unit. Peter had commented earlier before that the store did not have prices on some of its products and had only paper printouts of some of the new product offerings they had instead of printed company collateral.

The color scheme was pretty bad, and the stuff they had on the shelves were horrible: tacky mugs and weird crap. I am taking a field trip out to Naperville at some point this week in order to see what that store is like. When Peter spoke to the CB guy, the guy said not to visit the Lincolnwood location. Probably because it is not one of their better stores. I hope that the chain has better selections in layouts and store designs. Because based on what I saw, I am not exactly happy with the store design. It seems very conservative instead of young and trendy...
Went to see the Cubs game last night at Roscoe's. The Cubs lost, but they will be coming back to Chicago and be on their home turf. Brian is convinced they will win the series. I hope they do because it is long overdue...

Also, I am trying to get my research for my paper done, but DePaul's library website is down for some reason. This pisses me off because I want to print out as much as possible here at my work printer instead of printing it at home.

Mood | Starving
Watched the rest of Angel last night on TiVo. While I am totally excited that the show is back, I am not sure I am all that thrilled with them being with Wolfram&Hart. I know there's probably some kind of subplot going on where W&H is somehow using Angel and the gang for their own nefarious purposes, but hopefully it won't be lame. Last season, Jasmine turned out to be such a dopey character as a Powers-That-Be that decided to come to earth and wreak havok.

The best part about this new season is Harmony, although I am not sure whether she is still a vampire or not. I missed the season premiere because the Cubs game ran over and TiVo wasn't able to tape the delayed telecast.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 is one of the goriest movies I have seen in a while. The violence in the movie is incredibly balletic, each move contemplated, each pause relevant. In a way, there is kind of a dichotomy here: the chaos inherent in violence is played out in choreographed moves. I really enjoyed this movie although by the end, I was a little numb from all the violence.

Here's Salon's take on the movie.
This is the start of my last week here. I spent the first hour just deleting stuff off my work computer. I am organizing my files as well so I can burn a CD to copy the stuff to my new laptop. I had been lugging around my work laptop because I had been doing my homework on it. Now that I got a new one, I guess I can leave it at work now. I really loved that laptop, it is a Compaq Evo--very light, very compact. I will miss it...

Mood | Gloomy
The School of Rock was totally awesome! The kids apparently were the real thing and played their own instruments. It was very inspiring to see and makes me want to keep learning more guitar. Jack Black, once again the hyped-up, wild-eyed, man-child, was excellent in this role. The movie was really about Jack's quest to win the Battle of the Bands, rather than to go and teach children how to play music or to inspire them. Therefore, when Jack comes tells a kid not to drink, or that being fat is irrelevant to being loved (or adored by fans), it comes off sincerely because he's not out to teach them a lesson--he's just telling them like it is.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I read the latest issue of Neil Gaiman's 1602 issue 3 and it is quite interesting. I still have no idea why the eldritch storm is hovering over London and how did the X-men, Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Peter Parker, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch got into this era. I think I read somewhere that Neil did not see this series as a "What If" story, but sort of like Elseworlds or something. Which to me, means that there is some explanation to why the mutants and others are in this situation. I am really bad at predicting endings. I can never tell who the murderer is in the mystery novel...

I also read the final installment of the Tom Stone arc in Tom Strong #22. This is a fantastic story and I loved the whole alternate timeline caused by Tom Strong's mother. I have always thought that Tom Strong is probably the weakest of all the ABC comics line. Top Ten and Promethea were my favorites. Hopefully Alan continues with these kinds of stories that involve more drama rather than the typical smackdown that Tom Strong has.
Talked to Khalid who used to own a Subway today. He was very negative about the whole franchise biz. He said that he would never go back to doing it. He apparently bought an existing Subway franchise and then took over. Eventually, after owning the place for 5 years, he decided to sell it because he was the lowest paid employee in the company.

Khalid's advice, if you were going into the biz, is to buy the poorest run business and turn that around. He said that the location he bought was one of the best run places and there wasn't really much he can do to make it even better. A guy came into his store once and said that he was thinking about buying one of these Subways and he was willing to work for minimum wage just to learn about the business. The guy worked for Khalid for a couple of months and then found a Subway of his own and bought the place for a third of what Khalid paid for his Subway. He turned the place around and made money on the location and then two years later, sold the place for a profit.

Khalid says that this is a good strategy: look for the ugliest, rat-infested, poorly run location and turn it around, instead of the newer looking, not so hot performing location. Although his caveat was that he would never go into the food service biz ever again. He said that as an owner, you should never be in the store. You should be out promoting it and paying somebody to be in the store. The promotion is worth more money than the money you save by working yourself.

Khalid also said that since he bought an existing store, he did not have to have a franchise lawyer. He said that there was no negotiating with franchisors. I want to take this with a grain of salt, because possibly, he was in a unique situation where the franchise was already existing and therefore, no negotiations were forthcoming. In a new franchise situation, there may be more wiggle room. Regardless to say, I am now thinking, rather than rushing into a new franchise, I would work for a franchise a little while before I start it. However, so that I wouldn't lose unemployment benefits, I probably cannot work more than a certain number of hours a week.

Mood | Anxious

Watched Friends last night. It was funny, where Rachel kept slapping Joey's hand away when they were making out. The whole Joey-Rachel thing, obviously wasn't going to work out because Joey is moving on to his own show. In the years that I have been following Friends, Joey never seemed to have any deep emotions. His relationship with Rachel, however has made him have a depth that I never saw before. He's really quite adorable this way.

I also peeked in TiVo for the first few minutes of Angel before bedtime because I couldn't wait to see how they explain Spike's return. Brian came out of the shower and yelled at me for peeking. The opening credits now show James Marsters as a regular character. Cool! I still think that they can do a spin-off of Buffy with Giles as "The Watcher" and possibly have Willow in it as well. It could be a supernatural detective agency show with stuffy Giles and girly Willow bumbling around London...

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I am taking today and tomorrow off in order to use up my personal holidays at work. These days are not "refundable" and so I have to use it or lose it.

So far this morning, I have applied for about 10 jobs. Some of them look like they are a match. However, since I had started looking for a job on these career sites about a month ago, I had only had one company call me to discuss my qualifications. I must have applied for 100 jobs.

Most books will tell you to design your resume and cover letter to address each position. In most cases, I have tried to do this on my cover letter. However, these career sites don't make it easy for you to make slight changes to your resume before sending them. You have to really take some time and develop it before you are able to send it.

I am applying for jobs even though I am still pursuing the franchising thing just to make sure I am open to opportunities. It is a time-consuming process, but I guess I have to do it.

Mood | Productive

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I got the book How Much Can I Make? in the mail yesterday. While I did not expect that the book would have all the franchises' financial or sales information, I guess I did not expect that the format not be more uniform across companies. I wish that the editors added a section after each company's financial profile, a standard box or something which had the average/median/high/low gross sales, operating cost, etc. This would make the analysis of each company easier as the information can be analyzed side by side. The way the book is layed out, it is basically each company's earnings claims printed verbatim. Since each company had their own spin on the financial information, you have to really read through the whole statement to understand it. Sigh, I had hoped for better, frankly.