Saturday, June 13, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: TanoCalvenoa

If there was anyone I'd consider my best friend online, it would have to be TanoCalvenoa. When we were both writers on Squidoo, I remember him commenting on a piece I did that made me laugh so hard that I cried.

Avatar of TanoCalvenoa is also Jonathan Nielsen
Image of TanoCalvenoa and photo provided by Jonathan Nielsen (June 9th, 2015)

Later, I found out he's a big Calvin and Hobbes fan. (I am too). His sense of humour captured my attention first and then I discovered his incredible articles.

Every time I read his work, I am thoroughly impressed by his research, attention to detail, and the way he explains things in layman's terms.

The moment I realized that TanoCalvenoa (aka Jonathan Nielsen) was a true friend happened when Squidoo sold out to HubPages. Jonathan had only known me for about a year, yet he went out of his way to make sure my voice was heard.

I felt enormously let down (and betrayed) by former Squidoo people (and staff) that had followed my work for years. They remained silent or worse, they impeded my efforts to have Squidoo come clean with the details of this "business deal."

One of the most disgusting examples was the exchange I had with Susan Deppner (former Squidoo staff) in her Google post on August 22nd, 2014 titled: UPDATE (Friday): Critical information and dates for the Squidoo/HubPages transition.

Susan Deppner refuses to let Corey Brown my wishes (Rose Webster)
Hundreds of writers saw this exchange, but only TanoCalvenoa acted on it. (Click to enlarge).

Above is a snippet of the exchange that probably hundreds of other Squidoo writers saw (including Robin Svedi who I used to have the utmost respect for). Others who knew me for years on Squidoo were silent. No one helped me but TanoCalveno. He ensured my intentions were known on Corey Brown's post:

TanoCalvenoa Tries to Get Clear Answers From Corey Brown (and informs of sousababy's intentions)
Wonder how many former Squidoo authors and staff also saw this? (Click to enlarge).

Since this time, Jonathan (TanoCalvenoa) and I are both enjoying writing for InfoBarrel. I am always thrilled to see him win accolades like the homepage or the extra $100 monthly cash bonus. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more.

Without Further Ado

I present to you my interview with TanoCalvenoa. (And he also answered the inappropriate/personal questions).

Writing-related questions:

Q: What platforms have you written for? And why do you like InfoBarrel?

A: The first that I ever wrote an article in my life was the last weekend of November 2012 on Squidoo. My aunt was a Squidoo writer and had urged me to write on the site for a few years. Finally I decided to try it, although it was right when the platform was heading off a cliff. Prior to the final end of that site in August 2014, I'd written over 100 articles, and was the Science Rocks contributor.

I had joined InfoBarrel in March 2014 after having searched for another platform to write for, and being persuaded by you to try it (thanks!) – and the first thing I really liked about it was how much more professional it was compared with Squidoo. You had to actually know how to write, and there were real human editors to approve your articles (until I learned to do them well enough that I got pre-approved status). When Squidoo announced their demise, I immediately saw that as the perfect excuse to get out, and I deleted all my articles. I have put the majority of them up on InfoBarrel.

InfoBarrel has been very kind with giving quite a few of my articles homepage features. This started soon after I began writing for the site. On Squidoo, it seemed to take far longer to get recognized or receive any awards. So that's another reason I really enjoy using InfoBarrel.

Q: Can you explain your avatar and name? What does TanoCalvenoa mean or where did it come from?

A: I get asked that occasionally. Tano Calvenoa is the arctic hare with a blue cape that I use for my avatar on InfoBarrel and the social media pages that I have on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest that are connected with my InfoBarrel work. He is the main character in a book that I've partially written and hope to eventually finish.

The story is very wild and creative, and to sum up the plot super concisely, it's about animals from Earth that are taken by an alien race to another planet – and Tano Calvenoa becomes the leader of a war against them by another alien race that lives on that planet.

[Sounds like something the kids would love. What age group will this book appeal to? And do you think it could be made into a movie, TV series or cartoon?]

Q: Is there any topic you'd like to write about but haven't (and why)?

A: One topic very important to me that I haven't written much about is health and how it is that I was able to overcome some very serious health problems – including ones that the medical industry describes as incurable and having no known cause. I've thought about whether I'd like to write a series of articles or possibly a book.

A couple of reasons why this is difficult for me to write about are that first, people tend to get upset when they hear health information that varies from what the mainstream organizations and authorities tell them. I'm very much on the side of alternative health and integrative medicine, because that's what cured me. I've had people get very hostile, sarcastic, and just plain disbelieve me or accuse me of lying when I've said anything about it. And second, it involves more than just science and health information – it also involves spirituality and my religion, which are always sensitive topics that have the potential to offend people.

I suppose what I'm waiting for is to feel more certain about how to go about this. I believe I have an important story that I'd like to share with others, but so far it's only been shared on a small level with close friends and family, and I've made a few social media posts that relate to it. I've done just a few articles on health topics. And that's it.

For anyone reading this and wondering, I completely 100% overcame the following: rapid cycling bipolar disorder type I, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, restless legs syndrome, chronic allergies, a weak immune system, and a chronic low back injury. Each of these was severe and doctors failed to help me over many years. It's a miracle I survived the bipolar problems. At one point I was nearly approved for federal disability, but then I overcame everything on my own. I was determined and found the answers – and I very much believe I had help from God to do it. As part of it, I also lost over 50 lbs.

[Nods. Incredible Jonathan, I know you are sincere in trying to help others too.]

Q: What are your niches or what do you enjoy writing about the most?

A: I mostly write about science topics. My #1 favorite thing to study since childhood has always been geography. I've always studied and drawn maps, and drew my city and labeled all the streets at age eight. Not long after that I was drawing the USA and the world and labeling all the states and countries. I got to where I could do it from memory.

Geography can serve as a gateway to science as a whole, since it overlaps with many other sciences. So I've also always been interested in all the natural sciences, and this is the main thing I write articles about.

Q: If there was one thing you could change about the online world (Internet), what would it be?

A: I would want it to remain completely free and open without governments and corporations spying and trolling. I'm a huge advocate of freedom and freedom of speech, and I think it's critical that this be preserved online. There is a huge effort underway to censor and silence voices that certain authorities don't want heard. One example that is very important to me is the effort to silence and slander alternative health information. It's relentless, and many people unfortunately think that things which are false are true, and things which are true are false. This is why I get so much hostility when I share what I've learned, and what helped me with my health problems.

It would be nice if dishonesty and fraud were disallowed. That's one government function I support, although currently I'd say that governments are complicit in the widespread dishonestly and fraud – in relation to health information and quite a few other matters as well.

So what really needs to be changed isn't necessarily the Internet itself, but those who would seek to harm or control its use, and take advantage of it for nefarious purposes.

Personal and/or highly inappropriate questions (entirely voluntary):

Q. If we were to play "spot the Canadian" in your hometown, what clues scream "Canadian" to you?

A: One good clue (and I've seen this before) is someone wearing shorts and a t-shirt on a winter day that Californians would consider "freezing" – which would be a day when it stays cooler than 60 degrees (16 C). That's unusually cold where I live in Southern California. That makes it immediately obvious that they're either from a northern state such as Michigan or New York, or from Canada.

Probably the next best indicator is the use of "eh" on the end of sentences.

[Hmm, not too shabby. At 17 C, I wear shorts; sometimes say "eh"; but the "aboot" instead of "about" pronunciation never applied to me or my Canadian friends.]

Q: What childhood book character do you relate to the most?

A: I was a weird kid. I didn't like books written for kids. I found them highly predictable and boring. The same was true of TV shows. I never liked the ones made for kids.

So I tended to read books often meant for teens or adults. In junior high I read all of Michael Crichton's books, and Jurassic Park became my favorite, and still is my favorite work of fiction.

My pick for a character I relate to is the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The reason is because they were smart to the point of constantly surprising the humans. There were consistently underestimated and misunderstood. I'm not trying to brag, although I've had this same sort of effect on people many times.

Q: If you had to pick one of my cartoons about HubPages to be printed in the LA Times, which one would it be?

A:  There are so many that are so funny. One that definitely made me laugh out loud is on your InfoBarrel article titled Dear Federal Trade Commission. It has Paul Edmondson saying, "Seth, I told you we should've gone to sousababy's house and FORCED her to click that green button!" – and then has a hilarious picture with stick figures of you being forced to press the button on your computer.

Here it is, for anyone who hasn't seen it:
Satirical cartoon of Seth Godin and Paul Edmondson forcing sousababy to agree to the Squidoo transfer
Satirical cartoon of Seth Godin and Paul Edmondson forcing me to agree to transfer my content to HubPages. Created by RoseWrites / All rights reserved

Q: As the father of four girls, are there any women's rights issues that you feel strongly about? And BTW, Happy Father's Day.

A: Probably the one issue I feel the most strongly about (not that others aren't also important) is the issue of rape, and how lightly it is treated by so many. In some countries, girls who are raped are punished, as though they caused it by supposedly being too irresistible or something. It's difficult to fathom such illogic. I'm also appalled at how there have been muliple cases recently of men victimizing teenage girls, and the punishments have amounted to pathetic slaps on the wrists.

What I would like to see is much more severe punishments and condemnation for anyone who forces anything sexual on any woman or who takes advantage of any young girl. I mean way, way more severe punishments. In fact, I'd like to see rapists and child molesters banned to an island way out in the ocean where they only have one another to victimize.

[Hmm, there could be some practical use for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch after all].

Q: What rock star do you most relate to (and why)?

A: I'm going to pick my favorite guitarist, Dick Dale. I've played guitar for 19 years now, and I actually didn't discover instrumental surf rock until a few years ago. It has taken over as my favorite, and I particularly love Mr. Dale, who invented the style in the early 1960s. Besides enjoying his guitar-playing, and how much fun it is to play that style, I've enjoyed learning about this man and his life.

Besides inventing a new style of music, which dominated the USA for a few years before the Beatles and the whole British invasion took over, he has a love for animals and even kept pet jaguars, leopards, lions, an elephant, and more. I can't say I'm quite that brave, but I very much love animals and have always had a variety of pets.

He also practiced martial arts for three decades. I've been studying martial arts for over a year now, and love it. He also loves surfing of course, and the beach. I also love the beach. And he overcame serious health problems that doctors told him would kill him. More than once. That also reminds me of myself. Overall I find Mr. Dale very inspirational – in his music, and in many other ways as well.

Back to you and your work:

Q: Where can readers find you?

A: Readers can find and follow my work at the following sites:

My InfoBarrel Articles: TanoCalvenoa on InfoBarrel
Facebook Science Page: Tano Calvenoa Writer
Google+ Science Page: +Tanocalvenoa
Pinterest Account: Tano Calvenoa on Pinterest

Q: Do you have any strange (or helpful) writing rituals?

A: I always have a list of articles I'd like to write. They're articles that I know I would like to see, that as far as I know don't exist – at least, not how I would want them to be. When I feel like writing a new one, I'll look at the list and choose one. Sometimes I want to get an article done quickly so I'll pick one that is on a subject I already know really well and can get done in no more than a couple hours or so. Other times, I'll pick ones on subjects that I don't know as well, intentionally chosen so I can research and learn more about the topic. In a case like that, I'll expect that it could take up to a week to finish, spending time on it each day.

When I finish an article, I have my wife read it. She's a pretty normal person with her understanding of science, so if something isn't understandable to her, I'll think of how to change it. My goal is to make each article interesting and understandable for anyone – whether they know the subject well or not at all. I've also had my 11-year-old daughter read some of my articles to see how well she understands them.

I also will most often finish an article, then wait until the next day to read it over again. I typically find ways to improve the wording whenever I do this, and sometimes completely rearrange the sections or think of an entirely new angle to write the article from. I don't publish anything unless I believe it is really good.

I'm not sure how strange or helpful these methods are, but it's what I do.

Q: What are three articles that you would like readers to check out (of yours)?

A: Okay, the first is my most successful. It's currently #83 on InfoBarrel's Top 100The Top Five Places to See the Giant Redwoods in California [Nods. Love that one Jonathan.]

The second is one I really like because it has photos taken by my dad and I, and it was a 'Lens of the Day' when it was on Squidoo: Grand Tour of Nevada's Incredible Valley of Fire State Park [Agree, an excellent choice.]

And as a good example of what I write about with my background in geography and Earth sciences, here's one I'm particularly proud of: Mount Tambora in 1815: Largest Volcanic Eruption of the Past 10,000 Years [Yes, yes, this one fascinated me.]

Q: Are there any other writers on InfoBarrel you'd like to see interviewed? And if so, is/are there any question(s) you'd like me to ask them?

A: A couple of writers I like and follow on InfoBarrel, who I would like to see interviewed, are Yindee and Leigh Goessl. I'd love to ask Yindee how she got involved in learning about natural health, and I'd love to ask Leigh Goessl about her interest in volcanoes – because she has awesome articles on the topic that remind me of the ones I've written, and also how she writes so many really good articles so quickly.

[Okay, I will certainly ask those ladies (and Leigh again) to see if they are willing to be interviewed by me. I agree, great choices and I loved learning more about you Jonathan.]


  1. Dick Dale! Now we're friends forever, Tano
    Also, I've written and illustrated a book that also features bunnies as heroes, "The Viking Bunnies of Ancient Norge". We should share sometime. Good interview, Rose.

    1. It certainly seems you two have a lot in common. Plus you are both upstanding men. Thanks for getting the ball rolling with these interviews Vic, your support means more than you know.

  2. Dick Dale! Now we're friends forever, Tano
    Also, I've written and illustrated a book that also features bunnies as heroes, "The Viking Bunnies of Ancient Norge". We should share sometime. Good interview, Rose.

  3. In response to your questions, Rose about the story I'm writing - "What age group will this book appeal to? And do you think it could be made into a movie, TV series or cartoon?"

    Like my articles, I want to write a story anyone can enjoy. I'd like it to be enjoyable for kids only 11 or 12 years old, and for adults too. That would be my goal.

    And it would probably make an incredibly awesome movie. I can also see myself making books for younger kids using the characters in the story. And I can illustrate the book myself. I'm an artist.

    1. Wow, sounds like something you could work on while your foot heals (after surgery). Vic's book sounds hilarious too. Can't go wrong when rabbits save the day.