Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I have been having nightmares lately about school. I walk into my grad class (although it looked like my high school), and there is an assignment that is due. I panic, thinking that I would write the assignment during class and submit it at the end. I look for a spot to sit down, but I found that the classroom is not our regular classroom but a much smaller one with half as many desks. All the seats are taken and the class is starting. I wake up.

I am currently in the MBA program at DePaul University and this is my last semester. I had been totally excited before about graduation and my accomplishment. However, with my current situation, I have been totally unmotivated to do more than what I need to do to get by. Today is the most work I have done for class, researching topics and preparing presentations. However, I have not read either textbook which I had thought I would thoroughly enjoy as they pertain to eBusiness. In a way, I am angry at being laid off and being put in this position where I cannot be happy with my achievement. But at the same time, since part of my severance package pays for my tuition for this last semester, I certainly grateful that I can finish it. One bonus of my being laid off is that I don't have to pay back the tuition reimbursements that the company paid on my behalf. The total would have been somewhere in the $40,000 range.
I wrote an e-mail today to Taco Fresco to ask for a brochure concerning investment opportunities or franchising possibilities. There was a phone number available, but I didn't feel like talking to someone. Hopefully, they send me something.

I had lunch with Oscar today and discussed my current situation with him. He's doing well with Brian, his husband. David, is still living at their house while he is studying to be a nurse. Oscar, who works in HR for this big utility company gave me a listing for a position that I am possibly qualified for. That was definitely very thoughtful of him. Since he would be the HR person who would be processing this position, he can certainly help my application along.

We also discussed a little bit about the prospect of career changes at this point in our lives and he was talking about how he didn't think he could do what David is doing, which is to go back to school and re-train for a brand new career. David worked in the insurance biz before, I think as an underwriter or something, I am not sure. I think that it does take guts to do what David did. However, I think that circumstances put you in a situation where you have to do something in order to survive. It's sink or swim.

I think I am in a similar situation. I can take a variety of options: keep searching for a job in my field, take some classes and learn some new technology and look for a job in that field, or start a business. More and more, I feel that I can go back to IT if I don't get something off the ground in the next three months. I almost feel that these next few months, I should evaluate whether I should be an entrepreneur or not.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

This has always been a theme that I have held close to me. I've always known that to make things happen, you must nudge it along and nurture it. While some things happen randomly, I think that more often than not, things happen because you did something to make it happen.

In a way, I have re-started the blog to make it a record of my thoughts during this time. As I write these thoughts, they turn in to action and serve as a catalyst for me to keep on going.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I got Promethea #27 and I am amazed at how the sudden turn in plot has become so exciting. For the past year, as Sophie traversed Immateria to learn about Promethea, it had become quite a tedious lesson in magick. I think that Alan Moore, in his zeal to explain the whole universe, had sacrificed plot. However, the battle between who had control over Promethea and the aftermath of that gave way to a new storyline of possible world annihilation. I can't wait for the new issue.

I also got Terra Obscura #4 this week, which is still a mystery to me as I am confused about what is actually going on in this story. As far as I can see, some magical force is causing a huge science blackout. All devices and power sources are rendered useless. The science heroes who don't have a magic-based power are unable to use their powers. The story hopefully picks velocity up from here. So far, issues #1 to #3 were kind of slow.

I picked up Sandman: Endless Nights. It hurt my pocketbook. The hardcover was about $25. I regretfully tore off the shrink-wrap and have read a few pages. I'll post more about it as I finish it.
Peter and I spent a couple of hours last Sunday driving around Uptown and Edgewater to make an inventory of the types of QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants) that exist. This will hopefully let us gain an understanding of what kind of businesses and franchises already exist to help us in our selection of a franchise ourself.

For Uptown, I think, Peter and I agreed that it is more low-income than Edgewater. I think that both of us feel that Edgewater is a better location for a sub sandwich shop like Quizno's. We spent the drive arguing about whether there is enough people walking around the neighborhoods to how fast cars drive past a specific location. I think that the final selection will be a combination of what real estate is available and some of these factors.

I think personally that these will be what is key for a Quizno's:

1. Higher disposable income
2. Lunchtime Drive/pedestrian traffic (direction people drive to get to do lunchtime errands like shopping, mailing, maybe)
3. Ease of parking
4. Homebound pedestrian traffic (to pick up dinner on the way as they get off from the El maybe)
5. Early dinner options (places people go to pick up a quick dinner to go to a movie or something)
6. Weekend business traffic (shopping, retail)

These are very tough criteria. I think that in order to get all the above, we would have to pay a lot of money for a lease. It may be worth it though. However, I think a good balance may be struck if we get lucky. But then again, the franchisor will have to agree to the location. Anyway, I think we learned a little bit that Edgewater has some potential, and if we can somehow predict where the major shopping location will end up being in the neighborhood, we may just be able to get a prime location. I guess, I need to call up the local chamber of commerce to see if there are any plans of malls being built.
Brian and I (with our friend Joe) went last Friday to see "Underworld." I really enjoyed this story about the epic battle between the vampires and the werewolves (lycans). In this world, vampires own a huge corporation that makes cloned blood which makes them independent on human blood. This allows them to be able to concentrate on creating a vampire society which controls the "underworld". In the story, the werewolves are their sworn enemy. In the past 600 years, the vampires have gained the upper hand by slaying the leader of the werewolves.

This movie is not your typical seduce-and-bite movie as it deals more with a larger theme of immortals versus immortals (or according to one article I read, a sort of a "race war"). I enjoyed it thoroughly and will probably go see the planned prequel and sequel.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I have been reading "Franchising for Dummies" by Dave Thomas and Michael Seid and so far, it is well written and informative. However, I get tense when I read this book because it tells me what a large undertaking it is to start a franchise. While franchising offers a lot of benefits in terms of getting help and support from the Franchisor, the road to success is fraught with danger. The key seems to be to select a good Franchisor who has your success in mind and provides the expertise and support as they are supposed to.

What scares me is this is truly a large undertaking. When I bought my condo, I relied heavily on my real estate agent to connect me with a lawyer and even a mortgage broker. One person connected me to other professionals who could help.

In this endeavor, while I can rely on the Franchisor (hopefully) after the I sign on the dotted line, all the activities prior to that has to be done on my own. At the very least, I would need to talk to a franchise lawyer to go over the contract. At this point, I am afraid of how long the process could take. Since I don't want to start consuming my savings that I am planning to use for starting the business, I want to get this up and running as soon as possible.

Laid Off

After being laid off a couple of weeks ago, I have been wrestling with going to find another job or starting a business, as my brother Peter and I have been talking about for the last year. Since my severance package will last me about four months before I have to start dipping into my savings, I have been seriously considering whether I should be taking this time to find a job or start the business.

In one of my grad school classes, the professor said that any activity that does not contribute to your ultimate goal is an activity that should not be prioritized. I took this to mean that if I truly wanted to be an entrepreneur, I have to concentrate on doing that. Looking for a job will only interfere with this process as it would take a lot of time and effort to get a business off the ground.

My heart tells me that I am not meant to work for "The Man". In my career in IT, I have mostly coasted on my job because I found it easy to do. I did not feel particularly challenged and maybe that is why in the past 5 years, I have had some lethargy in terms of my career.

Should I take the risk? or take the safe path? We shall see...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

After I couldn't find a free "Family Guy" Theme ringtone for my cellphone, I decided to use the ringtone composer on my Samsung R225m to make it myself. It sounds pretty good, if I may say so myself. I used the nokring software to convert it to RTTTL. If you have a Nokia, I guess you can enter the following in as a text message and send it to yourself.

RTTTL for "Family Guy" Theme:

Family Guy Theme:d=4,o=4,b=160:

If you have a Samsung like me, you can download the nokring software, cut and paste the RTTTL above, and it will convert it into musical notes for you to manually enter into your phone.

Here is a webpage with some free ringtones