Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer in Chicago Keeps Me Busy!

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Summer in Chicago!  

Tropical Cocktails at the Trump

We all wait for summer in Chicago.... we wait eight long months, we suffer though rain, snow, sleet, wind and bitter cold for just four short months of summer. Summers in Chicago are relished. Chicagoans live for the lake front, those with boats are out there as much as possible. We take advantage of the various beaches, the street festivals, outdoor festivals and concerts. 

And then, there are those of us who work all summer long - like me! When I worked in advertising, summer promotions ate up my summer. At Accenture, it was summer events. And at SUSHISAMBA, summer conventions did me in. 

Catching Up With You All  

What have I been doing? I have been in contact with some potential new business. I sent out a few proposals, I joined the Chicago Convention and Travelers Bureau, and I am reaching out to potential partners for my big event this summer (a social media scavenger hunt). 

On a leisurely note, I recently took a tour of the Turano Bakery. I met one of the members of the Turano family through a friend, and he invited me out to the bakery for a tour. I had never considered taking a tour of a bakery, but I was interested. I like family businesses, I love Chicago and the Turano Bakery is a legendary Chicago, family business. 

We started with lunch in their test kitchen.  The test kitchen is where the Turano chef tries out new products, or they invite others in for lunch - like me! 

We had a ton of food!  It was delicious.  Blueberry, whole wheat rolls with chicken salad, prosciutto on Chicago-style, French bread and pork cutlet on focaccia.  

Turano Bread

Prociuotto Sandwich

In the test kitchen at Turano Bakery

Next up, was the tour of the Turano Bakery. Although, I had no preconceived notions, I did not expect to be blown away - and I was blown away! Two things stood out on my visit. The art, science and care that went into producing the numerous product lines at the bakery. And, the level of unity and involvement the Turano family had in the business. In the short time I was at the bakery, it became clear to me that this was an intensive, labor of love.

Uncles, cousins, aunts, grandparents... everyone had a place in the Turano family business. When I asked who designed a piece of equipment, the response was, "They are custom made. My uncle, we have an engineer who has been with us for many years, and engineers from the companies who produce the equipment...".

We started in the artisanal bread making room. This is where bread is handmade for higher-end restaurants and hotels. The oven used to bake the artisanal breads is the original oven that the Turano family used when the bakery first opened - refurbished of course.

Hand made breads at Turano Bakery

Original Oven at Turano Bakery

Next we walked past the lines where the Chicago-style French rolls, the mini French rolls, bakery buns and the signature Pane Turano is all made. It was surprising how much hand-work goes into finishing all of these products.

French rolls at Turano Bakery

Turano Bakery

Mini French Rolls

Classic Turano Bread

Classic Turano Bread

Last stop was the garage, where the fleet of Turano trucks reside.

Turano Bakery Trucks

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Just Found The Google Wonder Wheel!

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Google Wonder Wheel
Last week I was looking for some free keyword tools, so I sent out a tweet to a few of my most trusted SEO/web marketing friends (@jasonrubacky @SeanMcGinnis @AirDisa and @Daver). I received several answers, below is a short list, but my new favorite is GOOGLE WONDER WHEEL!  Just to give credit where credit is due, @AirDisa suggested the Wonder Wheel.

Short list of free keyword tools that were recommended to me:
*I believe the last three are paid (not free) tools.

Google Wonder Wheel and a Vanity Search
If you don't already know, I search myself non-stop online, in fact, I believe I invented the Vanity Search. Several years back, when I was the only Leyla Arsan on the internet, I would search myself often to see if anything new popped up. Then a new Leyla Arsan showed up on Google and punted me back several pages (you can read more about that here - The Least Exciting Leyla Arsan on the Net).

To add to the Vanity Search fun, I decided to try out the Wonder Wheel using my own name. I quickly become involved, spinning and spinning that wheel.  

Here is how it is done....
  1. Type in a search term in Google
  2. Hit "search"
  3. Look on the left hand column 
  4. You will see "More search tools" on the bottom of the left hand column
  5. Click on "More search tools"
  6. And if you read down the list, you will see WONDER WHEEL - click it
  7. Next, you can click on the arms of the octopus looking diagram and more suggestions come up

My Google Vanity Search Results
I started with my first and last name, hit search and then clicked on wonder wheel.  I clicked on Leyla Arsan Popular, and kept clicking until I got.... Leyla Arsan WORST.  But my favorite was "Leyla Arsan Dangerous" - I did not get that far, but I wonder what would have happened if I clicked on that.   Google Wonder Wheel is great fun.  I hope you enjoy!

Leyla Arsan - Google Wonder Wheel

Leyla Arsan - Popular

Leyla Arsan - Worst

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    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Damn it Purple Blob

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    Back in the Myspace days, I met an artist named Wesley Kimler

    Wesley Kimler

    I often speak of the Myspace days and how much I loved Myspace. I can liken my Myspace days to Picasso's "Blue Period" - a somber time and sort of monochromatic. I spent a lot of time online and I was stuck in a time and place that I did not quite understand. I was, sort of, in between days - getting over one phase of my life and not quite yet into the next. 

    During the Myspace days, I met a lot of people, mainly artists, musicians, foreigners, weirdos and one guy who worked in a factory in Iowa, with whom I developed digital friendships. Wesley Kimler was one of the friends I made in the Myspace days. I recognized Wesley's art right away, as it is quite recognizable, and I was a fan of his work.

    Wesley Kimler

    This weekend, I went to Wesley's studio to look at a few of his most recent pieces.  I phoned Wesley and told him that I was close, he said he'd leave the gate open for me. When I arrived, I saw a child's pool behind the gate and clutter inside. I was anxious to get inside and see what was behind that gate!

    Wesley Kimler Studio

    I walked inside and was startled by the barking chihuahua and the screaming African Grey and the Yellow Head Amazon parrots (5 or 6 birds in total). After a few seconds, the commotion from the animals subsided and I headed over to examine the black and white drawings on the east wall of the studio.  The drawings are paper and each has some sort of war influence; I was most impressed with the one that was already sold. Wesley explained that the drawings are best displayed in the shadow box frames. 

    Wesley Kimler

    Wesley Kimler

    After spending some time with the drawings, and asking Wesley some questions about his work in general, I could not help but take notice of all the larger pieces that were displayed throughout the studio. The bright colors, the intense subject matters and the sheer size of the pieces were stunning. We spent some time exploring the studio before I asked about a painting he had mentioned on the phone the previous day. I asked, "Where is the painting?" And Wesley pointed to the far end of his studio.  The painting I had inquired about was positioned under a bright light, and as soon as I laid my eyes on it I said, "Damn it purple blob." I knew it had to be mine.

    Wesley Kimler

    We walked up to the purple blob and examined it closer.  Blobs are Wesley's signature, all of his pieces start with a blob - some stay as a blob and others grow into something else.  This particular piece, was just a blob, a nameless, purple blob on a lavender background, and I loved it.

    Wesley Kimler

    Just to the right of the piece that I have since named "Damn it Purple Blob," was this lovely, hot pink piece.  I loved the color on this larger piece. There were many lovely pieces, you can visit my flickr page for more photos.

    Wesley Kimler

    What did I end up with? 
    I walked away with "Damn it Purple Blob" and I am quite pleased about it. I went back to the studio today with my dad and my brother and settled on that particular piece.  

    If you are interested in Wesley's work, you can visit his website or his blog
    Wesley Kimler Studio