Saturday, July 4, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: classicalgeek

When I found out that classicalgeek was formerly a full-time opera singer, I decided to interview her at the Royal Opera House in London, England. We are shown at the bottom of this photo (to the right of center a little bit).

Royal Opera House London England and Two Women's Silhouettes
ROH auditorium by User: FA2010 (Public Domain) | Silhouettes of two women (bottom) by dgrosso23 on flickr (CC-by-2.0)

When I first joined InfoBarrel, I had some difficulty figuring out how to use the elements properly. I posted numerous questions in the forum and was helped by many veterans of the site. Soon afterwards, classicalgeek posted this in the forum: 

"I have threatened, and then I've promised, and here it is:
A Newbie's Guide to Publishing on InfoBarrel."

She doesn't know this, but somehow I felt kinda responsible. I thought I had sufficiently annoyed her (and everyone else) with my queries that it prompted her remedial action. But oh, if only the Newbie's Guide was around when I first started.

Except for the moon, does anyone else notice a resemblance?

Temporary avatar of classicalgeek beside photo of moon in night sky
Left image provided by InfoBarrel | Right image "moon" by George Alexander Ishida Newman (takoyaki_king on flickr) CC-by-2.0

Well, you know what they say nowadays, black is the new black.

Without Further Ado

I present to you my interview with the lovely and talented InfoBarrel author, classicalgeek. Oh and she answered my naughty questions (and then some).

Writing-related questions:

Q: As you mentioned casually in InfoBarrel's forum, what's the "secret of the little black box" avatar?

A: As you may remember, some time ago, the United States Congress tried to pass a number of laws regulating freedom on the internet. In response, Wikipedia and many other sites darkened their sites for a day, and people were encouraged to change their avatars to black.

When governments decide that it's a bad idea to regulate the internet, I'll change it to:
Gardanne (vue horizontale) 1885-86 by Paul Cezanne
Painting by Paul Cezanne (1839 - 1906) "Gardanne" (oil on canvas) Public Domain

CG cont'd: The painting is of a neighborhood near where I used to live, and hope to return someday.

Q: DebW07 felt you are like "one of those genius recluses." Is this fairly accurate and why (or why not)?

A: I think I like socializing almost as much as most people. I'm going to a wine-tasting this evening with eighteen strangers. I imagine it's not that I'm a recluse as much as I have a lot of projects going on that require a lot of time and intense concentration, and I don't have as much time to socialize as I might wish (currently I'm working on a 'this day in history' calendar, a 'local events' calendar, and six e-books, as well as some volunteer work and just generally helping people out of jams). My other problem is that I really do like to work, so I have to balance my enjoyment of work and my enjoyment of others' company.

Q: Your profile page on InfoBarrel mentions you've been in business for over 20 years. What exactly does your business entail?

A: It's twenty-seven years now (time to update my bio, obviously). I was formerly a full-time opera singer and artist; now I teach classical piano, classical singing, and vocal training for speakers, as I have since 1988. I intend to pick up where I left off on artwork one of these days Real Soon Now; [sic] I was making books as art objects (not intended to be read). 

Q: What awards have you won for writing?

A: One award for poetry in college, another award for poetry in a country-wide contest in England, another award for poetry in France, and an award for non-fiction writing in the Czech Republic from a magazine published by a newly-formed gender studies center. (These are the ones that came with checks; awards in name only don't count.)

Q: You've been writing on InfoBarrel since 2009: what has kept you here? And what advantages does InfoBarrel have over other writing platforms that you are familiar with?

A: Obviously the pay structure; no other platform will pay up to 90% of revenue. I'm fond of the admins and the community, too. InfoBarrel is a very positive place and even the critiques are helpful in tone without a hint of animosity or envy. The attitude that everyone (within reason) can do well here if they are good writers and follow the rules is a big draw. And I particularly appreciate the emphasis on quality. While some other sites are floundering and changing rules (and enforcing them somewhat arbitrarily), InfoBarrel has been remarkably consistent.

Highly inappropriate questions (entirely voluntary):

Q: If these three prominent CEOs were vying for your affections, who would you do, dump and marry? The men are: Larry Page, Elon Musk, and Ben Rattray. (My blog post CEOs You'd Like to Do, Dump or Marry goes into greater detail).

A: Marry: it would be Elon Musk, for his ingenuity. I'd let him hack my Roomba (everyone on InfoBarrel should know how I feel about my Roomba by now) any day. [Oh you wild woman you – do tell.]

Dump would be Larry Page. While I love the idea of "Don't be evil," I don't think he's followed it that well.

And that leaves Ben Rattray in the default position. [See what I did there?] [Well CG, somebody's gotta do it, err him. Doesn't he resemble a dapper-looking Englishman?]

Q: You and I are 'women of the world' right? If I were to start a campaign that made it law that all women be paid 25% more than their male counterparts, would you support my efforts?

A: Of course I was tempted to say yes, but upon a few seconds' reflection, I'd have to say no. The problems are: 
a) you don't have a sunset provision, and one would hope that one day that would be necessary;
b) while it's an admirable start, it doesn't address the root problems and might create a backlash storm; 
c) it certainly doesn't address the problems of people of color, who face staggering amounts of discrimination each day;
d) "counterparts" is still open to interpretation (previous laws have tried to address this without success because of unconscious sexism). I'd love to see something else along these lines that addresses pay inequities, but this particular piece of legislation is too narrow. (I actually read Supreme Court decisions, and have lots of lawyer friends.)

[Hmm, okay. I see your points. But I'm thinking if we overshoot it (pushing a new law), that perhaps we can settle on "equal" pay. Because asking nicely just isn't working.]

Q: What famous person, author, TV character or cartoon character do you most relate to (and why)?

A: The entire cast of The Big Bang Theory. My parents were both scientists before they retired, and my undergraduate major was neuroscience.

Q: Do you have any online crushes and is there anyone you'd love (or never want to) meet?

A: I so definitely have a crush on Adragast! (Don't tell him, though.)

Q: Which famous musician would you (or have you) had a fling with?

A: I have to say that if Håkan Hagegård came courting, I'm not sure how long I could resist! [Hmm, I think you just chose him so I'd have to find some way to put a little circle over two "a"s. I can't figure out how to do it and now I'll have to ask you in InfoBarrel's forum.]

On Second Thought . . .

Swedish opera singer Hakan Hagegard and his head on body of CC photo of male model
Left photo by Patrik Osterberg (Polar Music Prize) CC-by-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons | Right image titled "Low Key Male Model" by Liam Somerville (techtronic on flickr) CC-by-2.0 

Who knew clasping your hands together made you so ripped?

Okay CG, fess up. Was he the reason behind your article How to Remove a Hickey Fast? Or what about 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do in Your Car or 3 Reasons a Music Teacher Should NOT Come to Your Home. Perhaps Håkan was the fourth reason, hmm?

Back to you and your work:

Q: Three InfoBarrel articles that you are most proud of?

A: Obviously the Newbie's Guide, which took most of four months to write and really got me into image editing (those red circles were hard to get right!). The others that I am particularly proud of are the ones designed to make everyone's life easier, so the article about automatically promoting your content and the one on automatically being alerted to copied content and filing DMCA notices round out the top three.

Q: Where can readers find you?

A: InfoBarrel, Google+, TwitterHubPages, Wizzley, my two active blogs: Food, Face First (food science as it relates to everyday cooking) and My Journey to Financial Freedom (mostly online, mostly passive income).

My Zazzle stores: musicker, classicalgeek, elementary, and passiveaggressive.

And my Amazon profile: classicalgeek.

Q: What motivates you to write?

A: Everyone has only a limited time on this earth. If I can do anything to allow someone to do something enjoyable, instead of something they don't like, or improve their lives in any way, I want to share it. There's too much misery in the world. So helping others do things better or more efficiently gives them a little bit of leisure to do something they love. [OH, I likey.]

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

A: Everyone you interviewed already has mentioned the scammers, spammers, and trolls. By now that goes without saying that we'd all like them to find other interests. However, I remember the Internet back when it was primarily the province of academics and people felt safe putting their real contact information at the end of their posts (see the very old postings on newsgroups for examples). It would be wonderful if the online world once again became that safe for people to express themselves. Getting rid of all the inaccurate information out there would be great (the old wives' tales about killing ants with instant grits, for example, which has been proven by agricultural research departments not to work). And, of course, finally, I wish everyone would improve their writing skills to the point I wouldn't need to write any more articles about grammar! Okay, that was more than one thing. Sorry. [Let loose sister and don't be sorry. You're not Canadian!]

Q: Are there other writers on InfoBarrel you'd like to see interviewed? And if so, are there any questions you'd like me to ask them?

A: Adragast, of course. And egdcltd. I want to know everything about them! [Oh, I like the leeway you've given me CG.]

In Closing:

I wish to extend my deepest, heartfelt thanks to classicalgeek for a most revealing interview. She went where no man has gone before. She's a gem to know on InfoBarrel and someone who is definitely worth following and reading online.

Drop by next weekend when I feature another InfoBarrel Author of the Week and hopefully an InfoBarrel Newbie of the Month.


  1. Rose, thank you so much for the interview! It was really a pleasure.
    Here's Håkan Hagegård as I first saw him; you'll excuse me for never losing my crush on him after you see this:
    I was about seventeen when I first saw him, and what seventeen-year-old aspiring opera singer wouldn't think him a heartthrob here?
    Thank you again for a wonderful romp!
    P.S. You can either learn how to do accented characters with the keyboard, or you can do what I did and copy/paste from his Wikipedia article ;)

    1. Oh, he's hot and hunky.

      I'm glad you approved, I had to publish it (the audience was chanting).

      BTW, I copied and pasted the "a with the dot" alone and his whole first name, but the background colour is all wrong now. I'll have to figure out the keyboard code.

      BTW, you were a blast to interview.

      Take good care,

    2. Figured it out, it's Alt 0229 (fixed now).

    3. The technical term for that is "barihunk." Yes, it's a thing. If you are reading this and you haven't watched the video above yet, you should. And you should watch his duet at the end of the opera (even hotter, if that were possible!).

    4. Well, after watching that video again, I certainly agree he deserves to be called a barihunk and not just a regular hunk.

    5. I couldn't find the subtitled version but here he is with Elisabeth Erikson from the same opera. They literally (yes, literally) tear the clothing off each other in this scene:

    6. Look, I got all excited thinking I'd see some flesh exposed (his). But they stopped just before the good stuff.

      I DO like that he's one musician with some meat on his body. (You know, unlike some "rock" stars that I think even I could "take" if I had to).

      So what's his "situation" CG? I found this quote: "Håkan Hagegård waa briefly married to the American soprano Barbara Bonney."

    7. You know as much as I do about his "situation." But if you prefer "meatier" musicians you should definitely watch more opera.

    8. Why do I get the feeling you could call him up anytime? And yeah, my former exposure to opera consisted mostly of SNL's Adam Sandler as Opera Man (I think Vic could appreciate his "Nippola" performance):

  2. Killer! Over the years I have learned what a fascinating woman CG is, and I truly love her. Excellent job, Rosalita.

    1. Thanks Vic, she certainly surprised me with how much she was willing to reveal.

  3. Ah, but Vic, you're not madly in love with me, the way you are with government cheese! I've resigned myself to being in about fifteenth place (unless I've miscounted the number of things you're madly in love with).

    1. There are 20+ pieces in that series. Gub'mnt cheese will always be #1 in my heart ( then Salma, then Sofia). You're in the Top 30, though, fer sure!

    2. There are 20+ pieces in that series. Gub'mnt cheese will always be #1 in my heart ( then Salma, then Sofia). You're in the Top 30, though, fer sure!

  4. Thank you for another stand out interview, Rose! I have used CG's DCMA article to help me learn how to get alerts. I am sure it will help others as well.

    This series of articles is a wonderful idea and I so enjoy learning more about those who share their love of IB and writing online. If this is not proof that this is a site that will last I do not know what is!

    1. Well, you've helped make these interviews work. And it's endearing that you believe in IB and this little project. Thank you for leaving comments for others too – I know it means a great deal to our peers.

      BTW, the next author interview will have reference to you, your expertise (and your blog(s).

      Have a great week Hannah,