Saturday, October 17, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: JadeDragon (With Vic Dillinger)

This week, I finally tracked down and was able to interview (with Vic Dillinger's help) the elusive JadeDragon on InfoBarrel

Photo by Philip Shoffner on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Images of Vic Dillinger, RoseWrites, and JadeDragon's avatar (all used with permission) added October 11th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Background photo by Philip Shoffner on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Images of Vic
Dillinger, Me (RoseWrites), and JadeDragon (all used with persmission) 2015

And he, my friends, may just be Canada's answer to The Most Interesting Man in the World (from the Dos Equis beer ads). I knew JadeDragon was a Canadian the second he mentioned in an InfoBarrel forum post that Ed the Sock rocks!

Now with all this testosterone in the room, I tried to keep up with Vic and JadeDragon. So I decided to fly everyone out to JadeDragon's favourite nude beach (read on to learn more).

Begin the Beguine

Bruce Lee image and cropped marquee lettering from Enter the Dragon, 1973, Warner Bros, Fair Use; composite with JadeDragon avatar by Vic Dillinger, 2015 "Enter the Jade Dragon"
"Enter the Jade Dragon" (Bruce Lee 1973
Warner Bros image, Fair Use, composite
JadeDragon avatar by Vic Dillinger, 2015)
Vic: Straight up, you gotta explain your InfoBarrel avatar to the peeps.  When I first encountered it, it led me to conclude you were an Asian chick and that was your baby pic.  I now know you’re a Canadian dude and that’s your offspring’s baby pic, so ’splain that, please.

A: Yes, I'm actually a guy.  Jade is, in fact, my oldest daughter, and that was a recent picture when I started using it. Her bright pink jacket pops on the page and it gives me a kinder, gentler look, so I will not be changing the photo. Jade is in Grade 1 now, and yes she is an amazing girl of mixed race.  While no one in my family is Chinese, I've done business in China, where they gave me the name “Da Long” or “Big Dragon”.  [Hmmmm . . . “da long” . . . eh?—Vic
[Rose grins: Told ya, lots of testosterone.]

The words “Jade Dragon” sound good together—they evoke a rock-solid cultural art object in people's minds—and created a unique online identity for me.  I live in British Columbia, source of much of the world’s jade, which is another interesting tie-in to my online identity.  [That particular factoid was unknown to me.  Did you know that, Rosalita?—Vic] [Rose: Nah, I don't keep track of crap like that Vic, I'm in Toronto].

Rose:  JadeDragon, you immediately struck me as someone who gets to the point and who has a sense of humour. For example, in this forum post someone asked about how to avoid "calls to action." You chimed in with, "The rational [sic] is we want people to stick around for the ads, not click off to some other site ASAP.  Also if calls to action were allowed every other article here would be "Click here right now to my junk site."

Also, you have the Number One article on InfoBarrel’sTop 100: World's Top 10 Most Dangerous Airports.

Vic interjects: What’d you do to tweak that particular article so that it bumped the one by IB Originals (which had, I think, around 20 million views) outta the top spot (where it had lived for, like, a year) so suddenly?  Did it go viral overnight or what?

A: Vic has the #2 spot on the Top 100 as I write this and he wants that #1 spot.  [You better believe I do!! I’ve been there a few times before and I want it back!!—Vic]  However, Vic owns more articles on the Top 100 then the next 3 or 4 authors together, so he is doing well enough.

The Top 100 is a list of the top scoring articles under InfoBarrel's quality scoring algorithm. While the actual scoring system is secret, IB Admin was pretty clear about what they are looking for. I simply took several of my top scoring articles and tweaked them according to IB's published guidelines. One day, weeks later, the algorithm was tweaked (I presume, because I did nothing at the time) and one of my articles hit #1. I also suspect that the IB Admin made an adjustment to their top article that knocked it down the list, so maybe it was not so much what I did but what IB Admin did. 

The actual sequence of articles in the Top 20 is not important, reflecting differences in the fraction of a single point as determined by the algorithm.  I can't say that #1 is better than #15 for example, for they all obviously score well against what IB has decided is the ideal combination of factors. 

Rose: Just so our readers don't think the Top 100 is an old boys' club, women are well-represented on the Top 100 too. Since we're comparing junk size: mommymommymommy has a few, LavenderRose and DebW07 have eight, Yindee has a couple, Amerowolf has a few plus the most homepage features (at a whopping 305). Both classicalgeek and I have one on there – there are probably a few more that I'm missing (but you get my drift).

Academics ’n’ Sech

Vic: I read your item on Constant Content about making bank in the realm of extreme couponing by using discount gift cards as a means of cutting purchase costs.  [An Extreme Couponing Tactic Not Often Discussed.And it was useful; those interested in this kind of extreme shopping should definitely check it out.

Free-use clip art; lettering, airbrushing, and composite by Vic Dillinger, 2015 "Will write for Food!"
"Will Write for Food!" (free-use clip art;
lettering, airbrushing, and composite by
Vic Dillinger, 2015)
Is this the sort of thing for which you truly have a passion, or are you writing more (sometimes) to be SEO friendly (versus actually caring about your topics—I’ve prostituted myself many times for money writing about junk I have not one whit of interest in)?

A: I actually have tried many of the things I write about, include extreme couponing. I rarely write about stuff I find boring, because I'm interested in so many things. I like writing, and do it for fun. The money is a fun way to measure success. 

Vic: So, what are your favorite subjects for articles?

A: Travel, interesting history and places, and financial topics.

Rose is back: What is your educational and/or work background? What was your best job? Your worst one?

A: I'm likely unemployable. I've always worked for myself in business, especially real estate and related businesses.  My BSc is in Business Administration, followed by another year or so worth of other legal and real estate related university courses.  

I try to keep learning all the time, including through a Scout-style group where I'm training for youth leadership. I take a global outlook on life and volunteering so, for example, this week I wrote answer keys that will be used worldwide for helping kids earn patches in tents and viruses.
[Vic: “In tents and viruses”?  Can you elaborate on that?] 
[Rose: I think Hannah Gold would know he meant "badges that can be sewn onto a uniform" for patches. The "tents" and "viruses" must be the topics or subjects, I think. But then again, I never made it out of Brownies.]

Writing: Onward and Upward

Q:  Can you tell us what prompted you to start writing?  And I’ve noticed you haven't been as active on InfoBarrel lately, so I checked out your blog Innovative Passive Income. I found it endearing to read that your number one goal is "Being involved with my daughter growing up—I don’t want to miss her childhood like my father missed mine." How is that going?

A: I've long enjoyed writing, which stems from enjoying reading.  I got into writing online, including blogging, as a way to teach myself SEO and online marketing for use in my conventional businesses. You can't really take a class on this ever-evolving field, so the best way to learn is to do. 

The plan worked; for now, when I deploy my knowledge of internet marketing and SEO, I find my business is far ahead of the local competitors. 

Vic: When you gonna get back to writing on IB again?  [I’m on hiatus there until 4.0 kicks in—I’m tired of my layouts looking like amateur night at a high-school yearbook staff meeting.]

A: I've been too busy in my offline businesses for my blog or writing a lot on InfoBarrel lately.  Everyone experienced a drop in income from online articles about the same time as I got super busy offline, actually. Further, I just can't make the kind of money Pat at Smart Passive Income does off his blog.  Well, maybe I could but I'd need to put a lot more effort into my online business hobby to the neglect of my brick-and-mortar businesses.

Winning an IB Contest took a lot of effort, not something I'll try again. That kind of burned me out on creating lots of content at once.

Q: How did you end up on InfoBarrel?

A: I started writing for revenue share on eHow, but was pretty disgusted with how they treated their writers. I started blogging about the eHow debacle. In the process I ended up finding IB, trying it, and recommending IB to my blog followers. I believe I brought over about 75 writers who used my referral link, most of whom did little or nothing unfortunately. 

Globe Trotter

Rose: After I looked at your articles on IB, I came away thinking, ‘Gee, JadeDragon knows about some of the weirdest and wildest places in the world.’ 

Here are just some of the titles:

And yeah, the first thought I had was 'how many nude beaches has this guy been to?'

A: I LOVE travel, culture, history, and the unusual, perhaps because of all the reading I did as a kid.  I've visited 32 UN countries, 49 US States, 19 Mexican States, and all but one Canadian Province. 

My adventures include getting a rental car stuck in the sand in the middle of nowhere in the UAE, circumnavigating the world west to east.

I've been really close but unable to go to some places I really wanted to. I remember staring wistfully through a chain link fence across the border into Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War. I would have gone in but the border was just closing for the night and my travel mates were not up for the adventure. We were surrounded by US forces, including hundreds of humvees on flat decks. My cell phone provider did message me "Welcome to Iraq . . .” and something about roaming access.

Chain link fence photo by  Evil Erin on flickr (CC-by-2.0). JadeDragon's avatar used with permission; talk bubble and text by RoseWrites added October 17th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Background image of chain-link fence by Evil Erin on flickr (CC-by-2.0)
JadeDragon avatar (used with permsiion), talk bubble and text by RoseWrites
I also stood on the shores of Newfoundland in February looking with displeasure at the inaccessible French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. Before driving out there I failed to figure out the ferry was a seasonal service!

Otherwise if I get close to a border I get across it come hell or high water.  I talked my way into Kalimantan (in Indonesia), only on foot, even though I lacked the pre-issued paper visa required at the remote border post (they lack internet to check passports electronically).  I also accidentally drove into Saudi Arabia with no Saudi visa, no multiple entry visa to return to Kuwait, and no Arabic language ability to get out of that no man’s land. Both the Saudis and the Kuwaiti's decided I was not worth detaining for too long and that the crazy Canadian should leave.

Somewhat Inappropriate Questions (entirely voluntary):

Q: So, tell me how many nude beaches have you been to?

A: My best nude beach escapade was linking up with a Chicago lawyer we met in Montego Bay, traveling to  Negril on Christmas Day, and then bluffing our way into the Hedonism Resort by him making up false friends called the Wallabies.  We arranged a guided tour of the resort on the way back to the beach and our friends. [So, I’m guessing the answer to Rose’s question is “one”?—Vic][Rose chimes in: Vic, obviously he lost count.]

Vic: Rose told me in her interview that a great bad girl moment of hers was when she “dated” The Kings (the whole band). [Not TRUE and nice try deleting my words Vic]. Gimme a bad boy moment of yours, preferably one that led to jail time, deportation, or a rash.

Prison photo by Danny Bradury on flickr (CC-by-2.0). Drawing of prison guard, talk bubble and text by RoseWrites added October 16th, 2015 via Pixlr.
Prison photo by Danny Bradury (CC-by-2.0)
Drawing of prison guard, talk bubble and
text by RoseWrites, 2015
A:  No rashes or diseases, and I've never been deported except by the Saudis but I was asking to be let back out of their giant sandbox.  

I did spend time in a Mexican slammer for a crime I did not commit.  I was strip searched, had my belongings and shoelaces taken (in case I tried to hang myself), and interrogated in several languages.  

I ended up cleaning the holding cell for them, getting permission to order pizza for the guards and myself, chilling in the squad room with a lawyer turned detective who spoke perfect English, and eventually having my accuser charged with obstruction, giving false statements, and other Mexican crimes.

[Now THAT’s a feature film right there, kids!!! GREAT stuff!!!—Vic]

Q: Ever go out all day without wearing underwear (and like it)?  [Not that anyone cares, but I never wear skivs; commando only, and I prefer my wimmen that way, too.]

A: [sound of crickets chirping]

Vic: Got any hobbies other than making gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches shaped like Canada’s Prime Minister?

Vic Dillinger Creation 2015 "Prime Minister McCheese"
"Prime Minister McCheese" (Vic Dillinger, 2015)

A: I build igloos in July and of course I know your second cousin in Toronto, which is only 4,400 km from my home. 

Rose chimes in: Yeah, when I was a server/bartender, I'd say "a table of four Americans is louder than 10 Canadians." They are (generally) louder, more demanding, but they are also more generous.

Q: What is the most daring thing you've ever done in your life?

A: According to a US Marshal, sleeping in my Jeep in Arizona a few miles north of the border, right on a major drug smuggling route. 

Q: What are your thoughts about the "Free the Nipple" campaign? [My thoughts are clear on that subject—as long as I’m the one picking which nipples get to free-range, then I’m good with it.—Vic]

A: Nipples are a cultural thing, and culture varies by time and place. One of my favorite preachers, when asked about makeup (which some conservative Christians condemn), said famously "If the barn needs painting, paint it." In Canada the courts have found that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the freedom of everyone to go topless.  I support everyone's legal freedoms, but if the barn needs a tarp, tarp it!  [I hear ya!—Vic]

Vic: Got any tattoos?

A: Nope, but I own a tattoo parlor.  (Yes, I am serious).  [Oh, the irony!  You should get some ink, though.—Vic]

Q: As a Canadian do you have any sure-fire ways to ways to pluck a Canadian out of a crowd or telltale signs of an American in your midst (besides being asked if you have any tattoos)?

A: Famous Canadian author Pierre Burton once wrote that the defining characteristic of a Canadian was they are NOT an American. Canadians are the ones that refused to rebel in 1776, rebuffed the American attempt to absorb them in 1812-1814, and continue to maintain a distinct culture and lifestyle while 90% of us live within 100 km of the US border. Any Canadian can be easily spotted in a crowd—just look for the person that seems like a very polite American and speaks with what you incorrectly assume is a Midwestern accent. [Except for those Frenchie Québécois—they’re rude as hell!!—Vic]

Ending Notes by Vic Dillinger

JadeDragon has managed to maintain a positive online presence.  He has helped many a newb get rolling.  He is a true veteran of InfoBarrel, still slogging it out with the rest of us for lo’ these many years.  If you have a chance to stop by and check out his material (whether on IB or elsewhere) do it: you may learn something.

The man does know a thing or two about the world so if he gives you some advice, my advice is: “Take it!”

Thanks, JadeDragon, for all you’ve done for InfoBarrel (and I know there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, unsung things you’ve done to help), and thanks, in general, for being an all-around good guy.

Even if you are a Canadian. [Remember Vic, you are outnumbered here–Rose].

Rose's Windup

Tune in again next week or catch up whenever you want by checking out my Google Collections: InfoBarrel Author of the Week and InfoBarrel Newbie of the Month.

Funding for A Blog for the Underdog is provided (in part) by my earnings on Zazzle (because I didn't want to spam the h*ll outta my blog). To date, I have 237 "slice of life" and humorous products available for purchase in my Sousababy Zazzle store. Need a special design? Contact me there.


  1. Bbbbb but I want to hear more about the tattoo parlor.


    1. Hopefully, I'll find out soon about the tents and viruses. This was another Eye-opener: IB has some truly interesting and experienced people in its roster.

    2. Hopefully, I'll find out soon about the tents and viruses. This was another Eye-opener: IB has some truly interesting and experienced people in its roster.

    3. I'm hoping JadeDragon will check out his interview (and 'splain some more) soon. Thank you HLesley, Vic, and Hannah for dropping by and commenting. (And thank you once again for your help Vic).

    4. Like co-ed boy scout badges, the last two topics I wrote up teaching helps were viruses and tents. I'm trying to write about tailoring now. One of the interesting things about writing is researching topics you want to write about.

  2. Thanks for another outstanding interview, Rose and Vic! I have known JadeDragon online for quite some time, but did not know about the man behind the avatar.This series is quite insightful and helps to draw the online IB community even closer. I find this important as other sites close and the contact among online writers diminishes.

    I, too, am curious about the tattoo parlor. Do share more, JD!

    1. Yeah, nothin' is more Canadian than owning a tattoo shop and not having a tattoo. I'm even more curious about him now. I think it's great to learn more about our fellow writers and how talented they are. For sure, we need a sense of community online when other platforms are crumbling around us. So glad to have met (and interviewed) you too, Hannah.

      Take good care,

    2. What more can I say... I built a tattoo shop and run the business side of it, You should not let me ink you with a sharpie though, I stick to writing and accounting for my creative pursuits.