Meet the Staff! An Interview with Maddie Ruud

In addition to being an invaluable member of the HubPages team, our Community Manager Maddie Ruud is a very successful Hubber, having been a member of our community well before joining the HubPages staff. Didn’t know that? That fun fact is just the tip of the iceberg! Read Maddie’s responses to Hubbers’ questions below to get to know one of HubPages’ coolest team members (and Hubbers in general).

How does HubPages handle negativity written about them on the Internet from outside sources? -AEvans

Our users are the best source of feedback we have! As a representatives of HubPages, I try to set aside whatever personal defensiveness or frustration I feel, and focus on validating people’s concerns. It’s very important to respond to valid complaints and constructive criticism, but there is also some judgement involved.

Sometimes, a Hubber or former Hubber will post a rant against us that doesn’t contain a concrete, actionable issue. In these cases, responding often sparks further anger. It can be hard to tell which way the conversation will go, so I tend to give the author the benefit of the doubt until it’s abundantly clear that there is nothing more to be gained from the interaction.

How do you squeeze your lovelife into such demanding and hectic HubPages? -prettydarkhorse

It can be difficult! I know I really struggled with work-life balance for a long time, working late into the night and often far beyond full-time. A serious health issue that completely took me out of commission completely for several weeks recently forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate. In the end, I’m much more productive for HubPages if I’m healthy and happy in my personal life!

I am blessed to have a wonderful partner who supports me every step of the way. Our favorite ways of spending time together are simple household chores like tending our organic vegetable garden, or cooking up the fruits of our labor in the kitchen. We also enjoy going to baseball games to root on our San Francisco Giants and cheering on our local league at women’s flat track roller derby bouts.

What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? – wordscribe43

My favorite thing about San Francisco (and the Bay Area in general) is the incredible diversity, in terms of backgrounds, cultures, interests, cuisines, and lifestyles. I’ve moved away several times, but I always come back. We’re spoiled here! On any given weekend, I can take in spectacular opera and scream myself hoarse at a roller derby bout. I can cheer on the SF Gay Pride Parade in the morning and dance at an underground hip-hop show in Oakland that night. I can go up into the Berkeley hills for a scenic trek with great views of the Bay, or enjoy an urban hike through the windy streets of San Francisco. Everybody fits in here, so it’s an incredible place to live, especially for anyone as “out there” as I am.

Have you ever wanted to smack a Hubber on the nose with a rolled up newspaper? -paradigmsearch

Never! About six years ago, I adopted a severely traumatized rescue dog, so I know the damage such abuse can cause. 😉 I wouldn’t usually liken Hubbers to dogs (as much as I love them both), but since you invited the comparison, I believe in positive reinforcement over punishment, as a teaching tool. Of course, there are instances where it’s necessary to point out a mistake, such as when a Hub violates a rule and is moderated to allow for revision, but we’re constantly working to improve our messaging in an attempt to be more encouraging and feel less like a virtual slap on the wrist.

Are there Hubbers that you would like to meet in person? -ripplemaker

Are there any I wouldn’t? Honestly, I would love to meet each and every Hubber in person, if that were possible. It’s great to put a live, moving, speaking face to a username. Even those who make no secret of their personal dislike for me… or perhaps, especially those. I find that on the internet, people feel protected by relative anonymity and by distance, which can cause a lot of angst and conflict. I’m sure that the people who don’t get along with me on the forums would be much more civil and friendly in person… especially once they were satisfied that I’m actually human.

An Autos Expert Turns Over a New Professional Leaf on HubPages

Three months ago, the Autos Topic on HubPages began to see a surge of fantastic guides and articles. Behind each Hub was the same man: Mkjearn.

Over the next days and weeks, Mkjearn wowed the HubPages community with his swift success (he is both a HubNugget and Hub of the Day winner) and enthusiastic involvement in special programs such as Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Who is this passionate car expert and what brought him here? In the following interview, you will discover that this Hubber discovered HubPages after contending with a series of career setbacks- and turned over an exciting new leaf!

How did you first discover HubPages?

I was made redundant like so many others in recent times and was unable to regain employment, even after 300+ applications and many of these were for overseas positions. I had been self-employed before, with my own garage but had no funds for another start up, so I decided to look online for opportunities.

I should perhaps say that I have spent the last six or so years online buying parts for my cars and motorcycles from all over the world, mainly through Ebay, so I was aware that there were online businesses in my particular field. That said, I certainly didn’t think at that time that I could earn money writing, nor did I think I could write. The jury is still out on this I think, but I am very encouraged by the comments I’ve had already and firmly believe that in time I could become a writer.

I “stumbled upon”, (my apologies, it’s very hard to ignore this phrase when it’s the truth) freelance writing sites and sites that paid for articles and thought, well I have a lot of particular knowledge but can I actually explain what I know in print and in a way that others would understand and enjoy?

After many days and weeks of reading reviews on this topic and so many out bursts of “oh you have got to be joking,” mainly with regard to being paid, I found HubPages, and oh, what a good day that was.

So, as perhaps with many others here, I found HubPages by chance and my overall positive outlook on life has been restored and the pressures of being unemployed and lacking basic finances have all but slipped into the background.

What inspired you to join?

As with everything I contemplate becoming a part of, I do research, more research, and then even more research. I have been doing this all my life and believe it has stood me in very good stead.

In this particular case as I had never written anything before I was looking for a site that would welcome wannabe or complete novice writers. This is an industry that I know precious little about and the terminology was and still is a whole new language. I like to learn the rules and protocols of all new things I try for two main reasons. I want to become good at whatever it is I try and I especially do not wish to disrespect those experienced in whatever field it is through my lack of knowledge or mistakes.

Having read many impressive independent reviews of HubPages in which it is regarded as the best online article writing site and community, along with the fact that “Mr. Google” loves and respects it highly, only a fool would go elsewhere to begin their writing career, in my humble opinion of course.

From early on in your HubPages career, you’ve been involved with the community and special programs like Weekly Topic Inspiration. What tips on getting engaged can you offer to other new Hubbers?

HubPages is not only the best writing site on the internet, it is a world wide happy family or amazingly friendly community. If you genuinely get involved and show that you are trying, other Hubbers will bend over backwards to help you. Be polite, sincere and respectful as you would as a newbie in any situation. Ask good questions, give good answers, leave meaningful comments, follow Hubbers you are genuinely interested in, and always leave Fan Mail.

As a newbie I roamed around, hopped Hubs, read many other Hubs, perused Questions and Answers, popped into the Forums and then, what a find, what a godsend, what an absolutely amazing tool, I found The Learning Center.

The Learning Center, a one stop shop for everything any wannabe writer or serious Hubber wants to or should know. In life I am like a dog with a bone when I get the bit between my teeth to learn something new. In most cases I am relentless and stay with something until I am very good at it. My partner says that I am the most stubborn so-and-so. She uses many different endings and most are probably true. I prefer to think I am determined, driven, resilient, and resolute. That said I’m sure my partner is right; I’m just a stubborn little man.

This bit is true and many might say “You’re mad” but I spent 3 days reading every entry in the Learning Center, making notes and rereading several topics before I published my first Hub. Like any apprentice you have to serve your time and I can’t recommend the Learning Center enough. I get very frustrated when other new Hubbers ask the most basic questions that are comprehensively answered in the Learning Centre, so I can only assume that this must really irk those HubPages staff who spent so much time and effort in producing this essential fabulous feature and I sympathise greatly.

So my inspiration to join HubPages came from many respected independent reviews, HubPages’ easy navigation and features, and most importantly HubPages’ sincere invitation and assistance to become a great online writer. The Learning Center is the most amazing teacher and free invaluable source of all you need to know to become an online writer.

Put simply and sincerely, HubPages rocks.

Most of your Hubs are about cars and car maintenance. How did you become such an expert?

I was born and raised in Belfast Northern Ireland about 5 years before the troubles or war started. From no age I was taking things apart in the home, the kettle, the toaster, the vacuum etc. I was the type of kid who didn’t try to put the square peg in the round hole. Oh no, I was the type of kid who reshaped the square peg to make it fit the round hole, problem solved. I moved on to petrol gardening tools and motorbikes. I worked on anything for anybody just to get knowledge and experience. I then went to training centres and learned machining and welding techniques.

Some time after this I decided I wanted to become a fully qualified mechanic. Employment opportunities for Catholics at that time were difficult to say the least, so I took a work experience position in a Saab Dealership, six days per week for 9.00 pounds per week. Things were tough and there was no money to speak of, but I was happy, as I was were I wanted to be. I didn’t get day release to college for study so I did that at night. I worked at night anywhere I could and anywhere that was relatively safe and on weekends I worked in boat yards. When I felt I was ready I attended and passed the practical mechanical skills tests having previously passed the theory tests.

Having passed both of these I was issued my Official National Craftsman Certificate and was now a fully qualified vehicle mechanic. Within six months I was contacted at work by the Official Motor Industry Department for the United Kingdom and Ireland. During this call I was told that I had obtained the highest results in both countries for the Mechanics Exams and that a special award was on its way. That was incredibly unexpected and naturally I had a very big head for a very long time!

In some respects I was lucky that I got to work on so many different vehicles and this experience and knowledge has stood me in very good stead. I arrived at work one morning to find that the garage had been petrol bombed during the night as suddenly I was out of a job. I sold a car that I had bought cheap and repaired and used the money to rent a small premises. Within a month I had opened my own garage and was earning my own money. I was extremely happy for a while until one morning I was visited by some large unsavoury characters who said that it was in my best interests to contribute to the Prisoners wives, widows and orphans fund. I took some persuading and thumps and so it was settled. Along with this came an unofficial employee or watcher and unpaid, ask no questions, car work.

This went on for several years until one day I closed shop and left Northern Ireland. I have no desire to go back but I am grateful that I became a damn good mechanic and I’m very proud of that.

Which of your Hubs are most popular?

My Hubs that seem most popular are: What is a Beach Buggya Kit Car– and a Trike. These are mainly fun quirky vehicles and not that practical for everyday use, but are something to wish to have or can serve as a hobby to take up when the funds are there. General car care and maintenance also seems to be popular, which is very good as I feel that I am helping people learn and care for their vehicles and maybe reduce unexpected breakdowns.

Do you think they address a common car issue many people have?

These vehicles are for the enthusiasts and home mechanics mainly. Many owners are members of car and bike clubs and love to show their vehicles at various public events. These vehicles capture most people’s imagination as they tend to be very different and not available in any showroom. The truth is a lot are very affordable and not very difficult to build as they come in kit form much like flat pack furniture.

A lot of people seem to be genuinely interested in general car care and maintenance. I feel that in this area alone I can really help people and offer valued information.

What can we learn from that?

A lot of people would like to know how to care for their vehicles better so as to avoid large garage bills and also to get a good price when it comes time to change.

With regard to Kit Cars, I think these vehicles fall into that life bracket of “I want” before our sensible practical heads take over. Perhaps maybe 1 in 100 will actually build or buy one or know someone who has one. At first glance most will want one and enquire about price and on hearing it the cogs will start to whirl and whizz and for hours maybe days it will hold a genuine interest but then the reality of daily life kicks in and the thought will be lost until the next car or bike show. This is so normal for many things in life. Some like art, some antiques, some markets and some of us cause conversations to stop and people to yawn when we say our interests are cars and bikes.

You’re very good at including original images in your work. What tips can you provide to Hubbers looking to improve on that front?

I’m not sure that it’s a case of being very good with images as apposed to luck. From an early age I was taking before and after photos of my work never thinking that I’d one day be publishing them on the internet. When digital cameras came on the scene I was in my element as I bought many car and bike parts from all over the world and it was so easy to send images to ensure like for like parts.

First piece of advice that I can offer to other Hubbers is to search their photo albums and consider scanning them into their pics folders. You never know when an early photo of yourself is exactly what you will want for a particular hub. If they don’t yet have a digital camera then they really must acquire one as it is an essential tool for online writing. One of the other tricks I would suggest is to get into the habit of carrying it with you at all times. After all most are about the same size as a mobile phone. Once the habit of carrying a camera is mastered the next step is to master the habit of taking pics. To start just take pics of anything every time you go out and as time passes you will get better at taking shots you want or think that you will use in future Hubs.

I mentioned at the start that for me it was a case of luck and in the image department this is so true since all of my work is right in front of me and the camera has its own place in the top drawer of the tool box. I can appreciate the difficulties for others when their Hub is on a topic that is not in front of them.

What do you plan on Hubbing about in the future?

Oh I think I’ll start to Hub on my other interests, knitting, washing and ironing. Oh yes I do. Well, I have to, as I live alone, though that’s not entirely true as Coco the black Labrador who adopted me about 3 weeks ago is now a permanent feature. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t iron, though.

No seriously, I’m pretty sure it’ll be cars and bikes for a while and then probably boats after which I think I’ll move onto building. I think by then it will be time to retire or start Hubs on my other jobs some of which were rebuilding jet engines, green keeper, and making micro processors in a very large clean room for a very large American chip manufacturer.

What are your more general HubPages and online writing ambitions?

Lets see, general HubPages ambitions. Being modest, I would like to hit 1 million views in my first year. Achieve every possible accolade. Smash as many HubPages records as possible. Be the go to car and bike guru on HubPages, after which I’ll be the car and bike guru for Mr. Google Become such a valuable HubPages community member that HubPages offers me a real job.

I would also like my own ludicrously successful car and bike website second only to Top Gear, although if Top Gear were to offer me a job, I’d give up on this idea.

As you’ve probably guessed I’m a modest little man with modest little ambitions or I’ve just got a great sense of humour or I’ve forgotten to take my medication again!

Are there any particular messages that you would like to bring across with your work?

On a serious note, I would like to help people with their transport needs. Whether it’s choosing the right vehicle or getting the right advice on maintenance. For too long the Motor Trade has had a bad rep which is self inflicted and I have no sympathy for the dealerships. Most people fear going to a garage and this shouldn’t be the case. There are honest, genuine mechanics in the world who take pride in their work and their trade.

Regular maintenance plays such a huge part and helps to avoid those situations were the transport breaks down and the owner is under pressure to have it fixed and is therefore vulnerable to being ripped off.

Discovered by a Greeter: An Interview with Kaili Bisson

Melbel, a member of the Greeter team on HubPages, discovered Kaili Bisson a couple weeks back and was immediately impressed by her beautifully formatted and wonderfully composed Hubs. One thing that sets Kaili Bisson apart from other new Hubbers is the fact that, in addition to quickly getting involved with community programs, she has made an effort to contribute new resources to HubPages- as well as the online community at large- by doing things like sharing her photos on Wikimedia Commons.

I, too, have become a Kaili Bisson fan, so we thought it would be fun to feature this promising new Hubber in our ongoing Discovered by a Greeter interview series! Read on to learn more about this fun, talented, and enthusiastic new Hubber.

Simone: You have shared that writing helps you relax- do you have any particular process you follow when you write a Hub (or something else) that is particularly regenerative?

Kaili Bisson: The wonderful thing about writing as a means to relax is that there isn’t a lot of process. The environment that I work in is very structured, and is full of processes and procedures. So I like to run screaming from that when my day is done. That isn’t to say that good writing doesn’t involve a process, it’s just a far more creative one.

I often find that simply putting my feet up and jotting a few words or ideas down on paper allows my brain to focus on other things…or on nothing. From those few words or ideas come more words, pictures, memories of tastes and smells, then more ideas. It’s pretty relaxing, especially if the process also happens to include a nice glass of wine and some music.

Are your interests in music, cooking, golf, and gardening related to your career?

Only in the sense that they are now potential subjects for my new-found career on HubPages. I consider them to be pleasant diversions and hobbies, is all. Though, if I had listened to my father and had actually worked at my golf game when he was trying to teach me so many years ago, who knows where I could have ended up career-wise? Often in the summer I have to make the difficult choice between playing in the dirt, as I like to call gardening, or going and hitting balls. In either case, you can be sure I’ll have my camera close at hand…I’m such a tourist.

Many Hubbers use images that people have shared on Wikimedia Commons, but you, going by the handle Greenlamplady, have contributed photos to the site! I think that’s the coolest- and a great way to give back online. What inspired your generous donation, and what tips might you offer to other Hubbers who might be willing to share their images on Wikimedia Commons?

I have always had an interest in photography, and I really enjoy the freedom these point-and-shoot digitals provide. These days especially, my camera is never far away as I am always thinking about my next Hub. My husband doesn’t even comment anymore when I’m taking a picture of something odd – food on the kitchen counter, ants on the peonies – as he knows it is for a Hub.

I think original photos really add credibility to Hubs, but it isn’t always possible to have a photo handy that supports what you are writing about. Wikimedia Commons has proven to be a great source of photos for my Hubs, so I thought it was appropriate that I share some of mine with others. It really is easy and takes little time. Hubbers might want to consider what sorts of photos they have in their digital collections that could be the “aha!” shots other Hubbers are searching for.

Your garden Hubs are absolutely beautiful. What has inspired them?

Thank you Simone. I love gardening, and it is something that I know a fair bit about, so it is a relatively easy subject for Hubs. I have a real green thumb outdoors, but I am a complete menace to houseplants. Anything indoors ends up dying from neglect or overwatering.

What first brought you to HubPages? What are your future HubPages plans?

I was just poking around on the internet one day, and there it was. I don’t even recall exactly how I found it, but I did some reading, liked what I read and signed up. HubPages provides the perfect forum for sharing thoughts, ideas, burning questions – and peony photos.

The thing I came to realize very quickly was that HubPages is a real community. Everyone has been very welcoming and encouraging. People really support each other’s work too, by sharing Hubs or tweeting them. I think that’s so cool.

I am really motivated to improve my writing skills generally, and learn more about online writing, since this is my first foray into that realm. I am trying to learn as fast as I can about keywords, keyword density, SEO and all these related terms, most of which I had never even heard of up until a few weeks ago. So I’ll be sticking around.

Is there any particular message that you want to get across through your Hubs? What is your aim in developing an online writing portfolio?

I don’t know that I have one particular message, maybe lots of different ones depending on the Hub. I intend to write about anything and everything, and have tried to create a Hub for the “Weekly Topic Inspiration” ever since I figured out what that was about. The one on appliances had my muse disappear on me though, I’ll admit.

My aim in developing a portfolio is to have fun while sharing ideas and information. If I can help someone who may be looking for tips on a particular topic, or maybe just brighten someone’s day by including pleasant photos in my Hubs, that’s a bonus. Would I love to be able to do this as a full-time career? You bet!

Even though you are relatively new to HubPages, you have published gorgeous Hubs and are involved with the community and special programs, such as Weekly Topic Inspiration. Is there anything in particular that has contributed to this great start on the site? What tips might you offer to other newbies?

Thank you. When I decided to join HubPages, I figured the best way to learn how to write online was to jump in with both feet and devote as much time as I possibly could to writing. Hubbers have responded to my work, and this has really been so gratifying. As I mentioned earlier, it really is a community and I think most people just naturally start helping and encouraging others when people are helping and encouraging them.

As far as tips, I would suggest that newbies focus on what they are knowledgeable about or have a real interest in. This will help them get their first few Hubs done quickly. Before they publish a Hub, they should be sure to proofread and edit it. Get involved in the community. And most of all have fun!

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Fawntia Fowler

Fawntia Fowler has been an engineer with HubPages for over three years and has made features such as the Map Capsule, HubNuggets, Hub of the Day, the signed-in homepage, new Hub designs, and the Apprenticeship Program possible. Aren’t you curious to know more about the woman behind these fantastic aspects of our site and community? You should be- Fawntia is a really cool and interesting person (who also happens to have the world’s cutest dog). Check out her answers to various Hubbers’ questions below!

Can you tell us more about the Japanese themed public school you attended in Oregon? Do you feel it affected how you approach the learning process? -rebekahELLE

Sure. The school that I went to was started by a group of parents who were unhappy with the regular public schools in the district. The original plan was to have ALL of our classes taught in Japanese (except English class, I suppose!) but it soon became apparent that we didn’t have the resources to make that happen. So, instead, we had a single Japanese class every day and sometimes Japanese culture classes.

Another unusual thing about the school was that every class had blended ages. The school only had about 50-60 students ranging from 4th to 12th grade, so it was commonplace to have kids a few years younger or older in your classes. Sometimes, that meant that students were expected to work independently and only occasionally get help from teachers. That was especially true of our mathematics classes, which many kids hated, but it worked well for me. I suspect that being forced to work through problems on my own gave me the confidence to major in mathematics in college. I wish that I could say that I use the Japanese that I learned, but I don’t really! I’m still glad that I learned it, though. I’m also happy that I got to know several people from Japan. (Some exchange students and teachers lived with my family for a few years.)

Another good thing about the school was that it introduced me to programming when I was pretty young (about 10 years old), and that certainly had an effect on my life. (Programming is my job at HubPages.)

What do you love about your job? What do you hate (or love a whole lot less)? -Marcy Goodfleisch

I love that I get to create things that other people care about. I love that HubPages is flexible about when and where work gets done, as long as it gets done. Sometimes I get sick of being in front of a computer screen all day, but there’s not much that can be done about that!

Are you strictly a 9-5 outfit? Or do you have workaholics that work into the night, holidays and weekends? – Arlene V. Poma

Most people show up at the office between 8 and 10 and leave between 5 and 7, but there’s no set schedule. Sometimes people work from home for all or part of the day, too, so it’s hard to say for sure! Our moderators probably have the craziest schedules.

Does HP have any Friday traditions? Things like casual day, big box of donuts next to the coffee machine, group lunch at TGIF, etc -paradigmsearch

We have a group lunch on Thursdays, actually. Lately, salads have been very popular, but last week we went out for Dim Sum together.

What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? -wordscribe43

Either the restaurants, or the fact that you can get almost anywhere without a car.

What’s the best restaurant close to HP headquarters? -wordscribe43

The best restaurants I’ve been to in San Francisco are, sadly, not near our office. The area around where we work is known as SOMA (which stands for South of Market Street). A lot of people work in this neighborhood, but live elsewhere, which means that the restaurants here cater to the lunch crowd far more than the dinner crowd. (It’s amazing how deserted this area gets in the evenings!)

But as for lunch, I think that takeout from Mehfil Indian Restaurant is the best combination of quality and reasonable price. Their lunch menu changes every day, which is nice. I try to bring lunch from home most days, though.

Do you still watch cartoons? What cartoons do you like to watch? -prettydarkhorse

I don’t regularly watch cartoons, but one of my favorite shows is a cartoon. It’s a Nickelodeon show called Avatar: The Last Airbender. Don’t judge it by the movie version, which I heard was terrible! My dog is named after the character Appa in Avatar (who is a flying six-legged sky bison). I’m watching the follow-up show called The Legend of Korra now.

Discovered by a Greeter: Haunty Interviews Dirling

Our Discovered by a Greeter series continues with a look at another promising new Hubber discovered by the ever-dedicated Greeter Haunty.

Dirling, called Lisa Simpson by her friends, describes herself as an activist, historian, and world traveler. Though she has only published a small handfull of Hubs so far, they are exceedingly fascinating. Of course, we can only know so much about this promising Hubber from her short bio and small (but growing) collection of Hubs, so Haunty asked her some fun interview questions to give us a better peek at this history-loving Hubber.

Your profile on HubPages is brief, but that much more intriguing. Could you tell us a little about yourself? Why do they call you Lisa Simpson?

I studied Library and Information Science for my masters degree, with a focus on archives and records management. I am tremendously excited by historical materials – personal papers, photographs, official documents – in an archive, your collections are not only unique, but also often haven’t been seen in years, sometimes decades. It’s endlessly fascinating.

I was born in Hollywood, Florida, and moved to Colorado when I was six years old. I absolutely love living here; the beauty of this state is incredibly inspiring. When I’m feeling weighed down, a drive to the mountains is all I need to feel once again that wonder and awe of nature, of life itself. I’ve traveled all over the world, but there’s no place like home.

As for “Lisa Simpson,” well, it’s better than Cliff Claven. 🙂 “It’s a little known fact…” is definitely one aspect of my personality. I have a gift for obscure trivia, dates and names, and quotations. I worry that I can come across as an insufferable know-it-all, but those who love me seem to enjoy benefiting from my random knowledge.

How did you find HubPages and what is your impression of the site and the community so far? Have you set any goals in regard to publishing on HubPages?

I stumbled on HP while I was looking around at freelance writing options and just thought I’d see what kind of reception I get. Writing is a little scary, as you know; you never know how your work will be received. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I have a lot of ideas I’ve always wanted to explore, such as Women in History. There are so many great stories waiting to be told! It’ll be interesting to see how much of an audience I have for that.

As someone who has joined us recently, how easy do you think it is for a new Hubber to navigate HubPages and find the information he or she needs to get started quickly? Is there room for improvement?

I found it easy to get started. I published my first post within a few hours of joining, and messed around quite a bit with the text and photo capsules to get it formatted just right. I couldn’t figure out how to put photos where I wanted them initially, but was able to get an answer to that easily enough with the FAQ page.

As you know, I’m fairly new here, but I’ve noticed a few Hubs with errors in grammar and spelling that would be easily caught by a proofreader. The overall quality of Hubs might be improved with the addition of a place where contributors can have their work checked before posting – pointing out that sort of thing isn’t the kind of remark I want to leave in comments, who likes a grammar Nazi? (Maybe such a place exists right now, and I just haven’t seen it?)

Your first Hubs are some of the best descriptive essays I’ve read recently. They are carefully planned, packed with information, and extremely well-written. What inspires you to write? Can you teach me the process of writing such amazing pieces?

Thank you! I have loved writing ever since I was, oh, about twelve years old. I think a passion for your subject is probably the most important thing to have, but there’s no denying that the getting a handle on the mechanics of writing requires a great deal of practice. I wrote a ton of papers in college, where I was able to hone my research-writing style. For descriptive and informative essays, I feel it makes for a more exciting and interesting read if you have an opinion about your subject, and try to convey that without wandering too far into editorial or propaganda-type writing.

The Hubs you have published so far are concerned with historical figures. Where does your interest in history come from? When you study the history of different peoples are there any over-arching questions that you are looking to find answers to?

I’ve been fascinated with history ever since I did a report on Ancient Egypt in middle school. At that time, it was more an interest in how differently people lived, the kinds of clothes they wore, isn’t that weird how boys would shave all but one lock of hair from their heads? Yet the more I’ve learned, the more it’s become obvious that people really haven’t changed much since the very beginning. We’re still motivated in large part by our emotions, by fear and love and anger. To see how that plays out in world events, the stories of individual people – it’s fascinating. And the what-ifs, if things had happened differently, are equally intriguing to ponder. I’ve been on a Nazi Germany obsession for a little while now – talk about the characters in THAT story! Hitler always thought of himself as an artist – could it all have been averted if they’d just let him into art school?

What is the best or most curious thing that has happened to you in life and you would tell us about?

I participated in an anthropology/geology field school trip to Tanzania a few years ago. It was an incredible experience – five weeks living in a tent in the Serengeti. It made me realize how much we take for granted, the sheer abundance of what we have. Every day in the field when we stopped for lunch, some Maasai kids would turn up and wait to see if they’d be given anything extra. Seeing a boy of six or seven walking his cattle to the watering hole, using a Prestone jug for a water bottle – it’s a different world. Yet the strange thing is, it isn’t a bad world. It’s so simple. Our camp was next to a tiny village with a small hospital where the medical-anthro students were doing a malaria study, and it actually had a few computers and internet access; but the day to day life, just working from sunrise to sunset, taking dinner, and sitting talking around the fire – that’s a nice life in a lot of ways. I can’t make my life quite that simple, but it’s a good reminder to count my blessings.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Edward Zhang

Edward Zhang is HubPages’ youngest engineer, and a dang good one at that! When he’s not busy kicking butt (as demonstrated in his HubPages profile image), Ed is busy working on cool HubPages features such as Videos, our iPhone app, slideshows on Hubs, the Great Commenter Accolades, HubTool tips, and many more elements hidden within the site’s underpinnings.

To learn more about this up-and-coming builder-of-things, check out his answers to some of your interview questions!

Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers? -ngureco

It’s always nice to receive some recognition and praise for a feature that I’ve spent a lot of time on. Other times, we receive negative feedback on our work, which always stings a bit, but life goes on nonetheless! Many times, if our work is not big enough to be announced on the blog or in the forums, it goes largely unnoticed, but I don’t think there’s any real shame in that. As long as we are helping HubPages as a whole, then I am happy with it.

Why do some staff members write lots of Hubs whilst others don’t? Aren’t staff members not as interested in making more money from HubPages just like the Hubbers are? -ngureco

Keeping up with Hub writing can consume a lot of time and energy. Most of us engineers don’t ever bother with, and don’t have the time to write, Hubs. Not to mention, us engineers are probably more lacking in the English skills department. However, the marketing team tends to write more Hubs (as demonstrated by Paul Edmondson, Robin, and Simone), but that’s just because they slack off all day at work (I’m only joking, they actually do excellent work!).

Do you still watch cartoons? -prettydarkhorse

Yes! Watching anime and cartoons is what keeps me sane! I also love watching Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about a group of nerdy friends. Imagine Friends, but with a bunch of nerds instead. It’s actually really hilarious!

Does Simone really wear big hair bows every day? -GinnyLee

Oh, that’s a good one question. In fact, YES, she does! Sometimes I have the urge to sneakily steal the bows from her head and hide it. It’s a shame that I don’t work on the same floor as her though…

When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer? -AEvans

I usually arrive in the HP office around 9:30AM (I have a horrible habit of staying up late) and leaving at 6PM. There’s a bit of flex to that timeframe, but you get the general idea. It’s actually quite flexible here at HP, which is great. Say I needed to stay home to wait for a repairman… on those days I could work from home for the morning, and come into the office during the afternoon. Or even better, I could choose to work from home the whole day!

I personally don’t “work” past my work hours, but I do log into HubPages to browse around while I’m at home. I also use the HubPages iPhone app to poke around while I’m commuting to work, or when I’m bored.

While I don’t need to work 24/7, we actually do have someone that needs to monitor our servers near 24/7, in case any emergencies happen with our servers.

What sports do you like to watch and play? -prettydarkhose

I love to play badminton. Every weekend, I would go to a local indoor badminton gym to practice for a whole afternoon, from maybe 2PM to 9PM. I played on the school badminton team during high school, and have been interested in it ever since!

Fun fact about Edward: I went to high school with Simone Smith.

Aviannovice – A Passionate Nature Advocate on HubPages

Having joined the community just a couple of months ago, aviannovice may be something of a HubPages novice, but don’t let her newness fool you! She has already published an impressive number of fascinating Hubs on birds, as well as other interesting subjects. After reading her bio, you’ll find that this Hubber has quite a few intriguing areas of expertise. We asked avian novice for an interview to learn more about them.

We hope the following interview will inspire you to dig into your own unique specialities- and write some Hubs about them! Aviannovice’s work truly attests to the wonderful impact one can make by sharing personal passions and skills with others.

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After finding a baby bird on the sidewalk in 2004, you were, over a series of months and years, transformed into a bird watcher, advocate, photographer, and rehabilitator. If your pre-2004 self had been told that she would become a bird expert, would she be surprised?

I would not call myself a bird EXPERT, as I always find myself learning something new. I don’t feel that anyone can know everything about birds, as they will prove you a liar every time. They all have their own personalities, some are friendly and others don’t want to be anywhere near people. As far as photography, I just seriously began photographing birds in Jan. of this year, as I finally got myself a digital camera with a little zoom as a Christmas present. Prior to that, I had a little Minolta 35mm point-and-shoot that used film.

In addition to rehabilitating and working with birds, you work with K9 Partners for Life (which socializing helping dogs that accompany people with physical disabilities) and PAWS (which spays and neuters feral cats). Will you write about these subjects on HubPages as well?

Unfortunately, I have not done any rehab work with birds since 2006 for the most part, though I did raise and help raise a couple of baby birds in 2010, a Common Grackle and an American Robin. I was thinking about writing about both PAWS and K9 Partners for Life, both excellent organizations. When I was in Maine, I did a little work with Allied Whale, which was based at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME. Through that program, I worked with seals and porpoises, some living, and some not. I gained some good experience in necropsies, which was to determine how and why a sea mammal passed on. Sadly, I have been unable to find any good volunteer work with animals in Stillwater, OK, where I am now. I miss it greatly.

Many of your Hubs feature beautiful photos that you’ve taken. Do you sometimes write Hubs just to use a beautiful set of images, or do you typically take photos to illustrate something you’re describing in a Hub?

I am out photographing, and what comes, comes. The only times that I plan on using specific photos is when I write my weekly, Life at Boomer Lake with Deb. Sometimes, birds just present themselves, and when they do, I take those pictures, as I never know when I might need them. I have even provided a few photos to fellow Hubbers for their Hubs.

You are oil spill certified in two states. What does this mean? What do you do with this certification? Do you think you’ll be writing any Hubs on the subject?

Being Oil Spill Certified means that I learned information on how to safely work with oiled animals, plus I know how to take precautions to not contaminate anything with oil. Oil is very carcinogenic, a dangerous substance that we cannot trust. Petroleum jelly is refined from oil and people use it every day as a lubricant. I actually wrote a three-segment Hub called “The Real Story: Athos I Oil Spill, November 26, 2004.

What first brought you to HubPages? What are your future plans with the site, community, and platform?

I found HubPages on a nationwide job site, so I thought that I would see what it was about, and I like the fact that I don’t have to beg to get myself published. I have been trying for decades to get published, to no avail. One never knows, it just might open a few doors for me, as my stories are all over the internet now, being read all over the world, and I even get e-mails from people from the internet. I enjoy the community, all the people that I have encountered, and I see no reason why I would not stay here on HubPages. I might even be able to help new writers. I like to keep an open mind on these things. I believe in keeping doors open and not closing them.

With your writing, is there any overarching message that you would like to get out? What sort of impact do you aim to leave on your readers?

My general rule is to reach the general public about the beauty of nature and the fact that we should keep it beautiful and preserve it as much as possible. It is important to try to save what we have and not do any harm to the beautiful creatures and flora of our earth. We only get one chance, so we must preserve it as best as possible, so future generations may enjoy it, as well, and learn by example. My basic credo is that if I cannot impassion people about nature, nobody can. My Hubs are also on the on-line blog for the Stillwater(OK) News Press, the local newspaper. Everyone that I meet on my daily ventures to Boomer Lake is given a card with my Hub information, so they can read about nature, our local birds, and see the pictures that I provide with my Hubs. I’m having so much fun with this, and if I only got paid for writing, I would be in Seventh Heaven to support myself by doing something that I truly love. I try to share my passion and love for nature with all those people that I encounter, for it can be infectious.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Micki Seibel

Though relatively new to HubPages, Head of Product Micki Seibel has been making big and splendid changes to our site. When chatting in the Forums, Micki is usually fielding questions about design changes and tests, but there is much more to this HubPages staff member (and impressive food Hubber) than new Hub designs! Check out Micki’s answers to Hubber questions to learn more about her background, motivation, and philosophy.

Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers? -ngureco

No. In most cases, hearing no feedback is a sign of a job well done because the Hubbers that don’t like something will always say so!

On a more serious note, I do read comments and posts from Hubbers to look for indications that you are happy and to get feedback. For me, I know I’ve done a good job when the data says so…even if the Hubbers don’t. However, if you want to praise me for a job well done, I’ll gladly accept it. 😉

What motivates you to do the things you do for HubPages?

My professional mission in life is to use technology to improve the lives of millions of people. It’s why I came to Silicon Valley in 1996. It’s why I worked for Netscape on the web browser back in the day (bringing the Internet to the masses). It’s why I ran Product Management at eBay in its early days (democratizing the exchange of goods), and why I’ve done the start-up companies that I have. HubPages is a continuation of that mission: using the internet to enable writers to find an audience, and enabling readers to find and engage with what you write (democratizing the exchange of knowledge).

Ryan H. used to bring in his dog. Do you have any office dogs now? -wordscribe43

I can’t thank you enough for asking this question and giving me the chance to show you Kisha-pups. 🙂 Although Norah and Ari sometimes bring their dogs to work, our most regular office dog is Kisha. She’s my 11 year old Belgian Sheepdog/Chow mix. She and I walk to the office (30 minutes one way) 3 or 4 days a week to keep her fit. I adopted her from the Humane Society when she was 5 months old. In fact, here’s a picture of Kisha under my desk at HubPages HQ.

What are your goals for site in the future (one year, five years, etc.)? – Marcy Goodfleisch

Excellent question. The goal at HubPages is to provide a platform for you to write and find an audience. That’s always been our goal and it’s not going to change. What changes from 1 year to 5 years (or even from 5 years ago when we started) is *how* to fulfill that.

The key themes for the next year (and you probably already see these happening on the site):

  • Traffic growth. Search engine optimization is always an ongoing part of that, but also looking at other methods such as social media and mobile optimization.
  • Redesign of the site. This is to better communicate our brand (especially to readers) and to update our site design
  • Content Growth. How to keep you engaged in writing, working on features to make the site easier, and looking at ways to give you inspiration to write content where we are lacking in it.

Are you strictly a 9-5 outfit? Or do you have workaholics that work into the night, holidays and weekends? – Arlene V. Poma

Actually, we are neither. Let me explain.

We don’t have set hours that everyone works. Our company culture is very supportive of letting employees create their own work schedules, and we are allowed to work from home when we need. We’re definitely not a culture of late night workaholics. A lot of people have families, and everyone seems to have interesting extracurricular activities and interests.

It works well for us because…and I really do mean this honestly when I say it…we have a great team that is very good at what they do, passionate about it, and that makes them effective. I’ve worked at several high profile Internet companies over the years, and I definitely think that the team here at HubPages is one of the best with which I’ve ever worked. Everything gets done that needs to get done…and quickly. At the same time, I can still cook dinner, play tennis, and travel: my passions.

Do you read Hubs for enjoyment? – rebekahELLE

Every day. I don’t always get to comment on what I read, but I at least leave a Hub Feedback on good ones. I follow the Food & Cooking, Tennis, Travel & Places, and Dogs Topics, specifically.

Where are HubPages’ growth opportunities? -GinnyLee

These are very related to the question earlier about our 1 year and 5 year goals. There are three inter-related opportunities:

  • Traffic Growth. This is continued work on search engine optimization as well as better integration with social media.
  • Brand and engaging readers. Updating our brand and site design to better engage readers. If they start to remember who we are, they will pick us in search and that help traffic growth. This is why you are seeing the design of the site change: the header, the new slideshow player, the new Hub design testing. Coming later this year are the User Profile and Topics pages.
  • Content Growth. Engaging writers such as yourselves to create more, great content–especially in areas where we are lacking in it. This helps more readers find us, choose HubPages in search, share the content with their networks, and remember to come back to HubPages–all of which supports traffic growth.
  • And traffic growth = audience for your content.

What sports does each one of you like to watch and play? -prettydarkhorse

Tennis. I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but tennis is my primary passion. I’ve been playing since I was 12, played a bit in college, and now play competitive USTA league tennis. I’ve written a couple of Tennis Hubs. I’ve even attended each of the 4 Grand Slams of Tennis (some of them, like the Australian Open, more than once).

Did I mention tennis?

Does HP have any Friday traditions? Things like casual day, big box of donuts next to the coffee machine, group lunch at TGIF, etc. -paradigmsearch

We have several traditions. They aren’t specific to Fridays, though. We always have team lunch on Thursdays. That’s been great because it’s the one day that everyone who works for HubPages is sure to be in the office! We have fresh coffee from Peet’s made every morning. Sometimes we do Wednesday dinners.

Casual day? Ha! That’s every day.

I notice employees on the forums late at night sometimes. Are you “on the clock” for these late hours, or what? -wordscribe43

I’ll let others answer for themselves. For me, I’m on the forums late at night working sometimes for several different reasons:

  • Sometimes it’s because I’m working on something that needs fast turnaround and there’s a lot of feedback coming from Hubbers (for example, the Hub redesigns in Fashion and Technology).
  • Sometimes it’s because I left work early to play tennis. Ok, truth be told, it’s often it’s because I split up my work day and head out early to play tennis then work again after dinner.

Discovered by a Greeter: Haunty Interviews Sphinxs Sanctum

One of the frustrating things about discovering new Hubbers is that there is so little information about them! Most have only written a couple of Hubs, many haven’t yet filled out their profile bios, and some even don’t have a profile photo!

Charged with the nobile task of making new Hubbers feel at Home, our special team of Greeters is often frustrated by the enigma new Hubbers present, which is one reason why we’re launching the Discovered by a Greeter series.  Over the course of this series we will interview intriguing new Hubbers identified by Greeters to get to know them better.

Our first Hubber to be featured in the series is Sphinxs Sanctum, who was discovered by Haunty.  We can only learn so much from the small handful of Hubs she has published so far, but her interview with Haunty below offers a sneak peek of an abundance of fascinating Hubs to come.

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself without blowing your cover as a Sphinx, that is? What are your key features? What do you do and enjoy most about it?

My life is rather mundane, for the moment. I am your average American woman of my mid-thirties, living in the south. I live alone, never having had children and am newly single. I’m a country-girl, at heart, as I’ve lived partly in the country and partly in the city over my years. I greatly prefer the solitude, beauty and open space, that country living provides, to the busy, traffic-heavy, crime-laden city. Most people think I’m just crazy to want to live high atop a mountain, alone, with bears for neighbors, yet it’s my dream. Someday it will come true. In my perfect world, I wouldn’t hope for a private island or to travel the globe, just some beautiful farm-land in the hills where I could keep horses and take-in abandoned and injured creatures to rehome.

I live in a small home with a decent sized backyard affording me the ability to keep my animal companions happy. They are like my children and my best friends wrapped-up together and I simply couldn’t imagine living without them. They are another reason that I dream of having property. I’d like more room for my pack to run! I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember and they’ve been a constant in my life; perhaps because I relate more to, and trust them before humans. Today I work in the animal / medical field and my hope is to return to college to move higher within the field. I was a “slow-starter” toward my career path for I was discouraged by family from following my heart. But now I think, I’m on the right track. Then again, who knows? I may change course again, as I learn something new about myself each and every day.

The answers I leave here, may in-fact, “blow my cover” to anyone that is trying to find me on HubPages; but that’s okay. There is only one person I know who also writes here and was the one who introduced me to HP. I’ve been wondering if they’ll be able to identify me by my writings alone, as I didn’t inform them that I’d joined the party. It’s my secret game.

I’m curious about your Hubber name, Sphinx’s Sanctum, which has an air of such mystery about it. May I ask why you chose it?

I chose the name, “Sphinx’s Sanctum” for I felt an affinity with it. The Sphinx, of Greek mythology, was known as the great riddler. Where I have much to say, I sometimes hide my true meaning asking the reader to interpret the words for themselves. The Sphinx demanded a correct answer to her riddles and if not given, the one questioned was promptly and efficiently, strangled. While I don’t really wish to strangle anyone who doesn’t grasp what I’ve conveyed, I have been frustrated on occasion by those that have not taken the time to understand me.

For readers here who enjoy and know much of Greek Mythology, you’ll remember that the Sphinx, when she finally received a correct answer from Oedipus, threw herself from her perch, to her death. Does that mean if you don’t get the meaning behind what I’m trying to say that I’ll jump to my death? Of course not! Like the Sphinx, I do not wish for anyone to completely understand what I’ve put to paper for then I’d be far too vulnerable. Heart splayed open, waiting for the autopsy.

I am exceptionally protective of my mysteries, and I want each reader to take something away from my words that makes them feel exactly what’s taking place inside of me without revealing it. The Sphinx was said to have the head and breasts of a woman, the wings of an eagle, and the body and feet of a lion. She was a beast; a demon of arcane wisdom. I should only hope to someday possess some degree of wisdom, but like the Sphinx, I am made of many parts; as we all are. Wouldn’t it be a wondrous thing to have the physical power of the lion, the mystery of a woman and the ability to fly?

Writing takes me to a safe, secure, inviolable place; hence the second half of the pseudonym “Sanctum.” Also, what would the Sphinx’s Sanctum be? I believe it would have been a safe haven which contained an atmosphere, a barrier – preventing anyone from ever guessing the correct answers to her riddles. This haven would have protected her life; and now, my soul.

When did you start writing and what inspired you to do so?

This is a question that I fear cannot answer. I have been writing for so many years, off and on, that I could not begin to nail down a year, a specific time or age. If I were to guess, I’d say I have loved stories and the written word in general since I was very little; maybe one and a half or two years old. I was read to every single night, without fail. By the time I was three years old, I could recite every word, from every book, in perfect order. The family thought I was a genius because I would hold the book in front of me, know which page to look at while reciting and turned the pages with perfect timing. I fooled them – Haha! As for the start of my writing, all I can say is that I’ve put words to paper forever. Any time I had trouble communicating anything to family or had an overflow of emotion, the notebook came out. My family members used to make fun of the fact that if I was truly angry at one of them, they knew they’d be getting a letter. I had a turbulent childhood and needed the outlet that writing provided; so, I used it frequently. Other than my letters to family, until HubPages, I had never shared my writing with others; especially not perfect strangers.

Judging by the three poems you already have published on HubPages, you are incredibly talented. What sort of poetry do you enjoy? Can you teach me how to write a poem?

Wow, what a question! Since I’m not anywhere close to a “studied writer,” I’m really not familiar with the many different styles of poetry. Honestly, I must admit that the many types I’ve read, I’m not fond of. My “poetry” is no more than the way my brain translates what’s stirring inside my heart. It is not overly calculated and when I write, it flies forth like a bat out of hell. I don’t know that I have a particular style of writing, but if someone out there does know, I’d appreciate their insight!

What sort of poetry do I enjoy? Well, since I’ve already admitted that I’m completely oblivious to the many styles of poetry, I can only say that the writing I enjoy most is the kind that is honest-to-the-bone and paints me an undeniable picture; one saturated with imagery. I think that’s why I’m troubled by some forms of poetry. You’re offered a stanza full of words that don’t necessarily go-together and then expected to know their collective meaning. Sometimes if you contemplate long enough, you can find something about your life or experiences that the words remind you of; but certainly not always. Often times, they’ve just been a cluster of words; for me anyway. Then the readers’ talk of how deep, moving and beautiful the poem was and I’m left thinking, “Huh, just pull your head from the dictionary long enough to say what you mean.” “To each their own” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Maybe if I were a studied writer, I’d understand and find the beauty behind those “clusters.” But mostly, I think it’s a problem where writers are just trying too hard and forcing the words to come, rather than allowing an organic flow.

On your profile you mention that you have kept a journal off and on for some time. What is your dirtiest secret in the journal that you would never tell anyone?

Well, if I would “never tell, anyone,” what on earth would make me divulge the secret here? Remember – the one you’re asking is exceedingly protective of her mysteries. Sorry to disappoint you, I’m not that easy!

As a fairly new Hubber, could you share your impression of HubPages? Have you set any specific goals?

I view HubPages as a bottomless reservoir, providing sustenance to writers of all distinction; allowing them freedom of expression, creativity, knowledge, growth and camaraderie. Some are there strictly to create and grow as writers while others seem to be at the other end of the spectrum, trying to pump-out Hubs as quickly as possible, to make money. Many fall somewhere in between.

I joined HubPages to allow myself an outlet, where I no longer totally hide. I didn’t come to make money, although I’d love to; and I’m not here to find out if I “have what it takes,” to be a respected writer. My intentions are to do some self-reflection, grow as a human being, and see if others relate to my inner workings. If they don’t relate that’s okay, because I’m greatly interested in the way that others’ minds work and the way in which they experience and see the world.

I have not set any specific goals for my time at HubPages. I’m still so very new and trying to understand the ins and outs of it all. There is much to learn here! Really, I’m just thrilled to have been accepted by the many wonderful people who have welcomed me, taken the time to read my Hubs, and advised me. There’s so much wisdom within the pool of writers that I’d be insane not to follow them and their works.

HubPages might just be a wonderland for the imaginative mind. I’m going to enjoy watching the growth of HP and any additions to their already impressive format!

What would you advise prospective writers just getting started with HubPages to do first?

That would depend upon their motives for taking part in HubPages. In general though, I’d advise any prospective Hubber to read, read, and read some more! Review every piece of information within the Learning Center and if you don’t find your answers there, don’t be afraid to ask the old-timers. Most are more than willing to offer assistance.

When you’re primed to write and publish your first Hub, don’t! It can be very enticing and exciting when you have something to share, but hold yourself back. Edit, spellcheck, review your phrasing, and if you’re in it for money then you had better know a thing or two about creating search-friendly Hubs, for this is how you will draw visitors to them. I did everything backwards where I published my first Hub, knowing nothing about any of these things. I am now back-tracking, trying to read everything I can find related to SEO. Don’t make my mistake!

What was the best or most curious thing that has happened to you and you want to brag about?

This is not a question that I’m finding easy to answer, only because I’m just learning to be open with people; and while what I’m about to write will seem absolutely bonkers to some, every bit I swear is true. But, as far as bragging about it, that’s not really something I do and doesn’t apply here; this is just the first and some of the most curious things that have happened to me. I’m giving you more than one because it’s all of the same realm.

I have always been a fairly open-minded person with an extremely sensitive nature. My Grandmother used to say that she could look at me the wrong way and it would hurt my feelings. My Grandfather says that my heart is so big it’s dangerous; that it gets me in trouble. As a people watcher by both nature and nurture, I’ve learned to read people well and have always been empathetic. Now with that prelude, I’ll go into the meat of my story.

When I was about seven years old, I was asleep on the family room couch which oversees a back porch through sliding glass doors. At approximately 1:00 a.m., something gently rustled me from my sleep. As I slowly opened my eyes and looked through the glass to the porch, I saw a man! I shrank further into the cushions, pulling the blanket tight to me, with eyes wide and wondering; yet not truly scared. This man was tall, thin, dressed in a grey, pin-striped suit and he had a wool fedora atop his head. He had recognizable, rust-colored, suspenders beneath his jacket. This man looked so very familiar to me but odd. He was nearly translucent. Not glowing, not see-through, nearly-translucent, cloudy, opaque. He knew I was watching, then smiled and waved. This gave me comfort and allowed me to realize that I was looking directly at my Great-Grandfather, whom I hadn’t seen in some time as he’d passed-on. I was hurried to get to my feet and run out the doors to him, but my feet became tangled in the blanket. As I was trying to free them, I looked up to make sure he hadn’t gone and then I saw him put his fingers to his lips and motion as if to say, “Shh.” With that he turned away, and disappeared. I wasn’t saddened by his departure for I understood that he had loved me enough to come say good-bye; the chance we didn’t get before he died.
About now, most of you are saying, “She was a young child, asleep and this was clearly, a dream.” Well this was what my family thought too; but I knew better. I always felt different, somehow.
Five years later, my Great-Grandmother did come to me in a dream. She walked up to my bed, appearing with that same near-translucency, then, pushed the hair from my forehead to kiss it. She whispered, “Don’t you forget, your Granny Loves you.” I awoke the next morning with her scent still fresh in the room. She always smelled of roses and baking. I thought it strange to have had the dream as I never had dreamt of her before; but I was quite content for my Great-Grandmother was the purest-hearted, dearest woman I’ve ever known. I pulled myself together and went on to school. Somewhere after lunch-time, my Grandmother (not my Great-Grandma), came to the school. When my name was called over the loud-speaker to come to the office, I turned to my friend and said, “I won’t be here for a while. We’re going up north to bury my Great-Grandma. She died last night.” I went to the front office and as soon as my eyes met my Grandmother’s, I said, “I’m so sorry your momma died. When will be leaving?” This shocked her to her core! I reminded her that before I left for school, I had told her that I dreamt of Granny last night. She began to cry and said that she should have known the terrible news right then. After that, my family began to believe that maybe I saw more than they were able to see.

Are you waiting for me to say that now-famous line, “I See Dead People?” Nah. Two years later, this happened again with the passing of my father, whom I hadn’t seen in seven years; and only three or four times ever. But that time, I was scared by it. He wasn’t standing upright, but instead seemed as though he had roller-skates on his knees, rolling up along-side, the length of my bed from the end. That incident haunts me to this day. It felt – supernatural, otherworldly and eerie.

Lastly, I’ve had many “psychic occurrences” over the years. I have foreseen events to come and found many a lost item. The greatest “find” was a good friend’s rather large diamond engagement ring she was given a few days prior. She called me crying hysterically to say the ring was missing! I hopped in my car and went straight to her apartment to help her look. On the way over, I got an impression that directed me to look near the kitchen, behind something dark. When she opened the door, I walked straight in, directly toward the kitchen and stopped at the end of her counter-top. There was a large, black waste-basket; and behind it, her ring! Her jaw dropped and then she began to jump and scream with joy! She couldn’t believe that I found her ring after she had searched for hours.

This type of “psychic experience” doesn’t happen as often to me as it once did. The mind of a child is far more open than that of an adult. I think I’ve had too many obstructions in my mind and spirit over the last ten years. I do still get “warnings” of sorts that others may simply call instinct, but the two feelings are separate for me. So, call it Heightened Intuition, Psychic Ability, Clairvoyance, Extrasensory Perception or whatever you like, I’ve experienced something of that realm.

Is there anything else that I left out and you would like to share with us?

No. I think I’ve said and revealed more than enough here for now! I’ve never been a woman of few words, when it comes to writing anyhow. I’m my worst editor. I wouldn’t know where to begin to cut this down so I’ll leave that to you, if it’s needed.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Ari Lamstein

If you regularly use the Q&A feature on our site, you’re very familiar with Ari Lamstein’s work. He has been improving and refining that feature for quite some time now, and has made some magnificent changes!

As the latest installment in our Meet the Staff series, we’ve given Ari some of the questions you’ve asked of HubPages staff in the forums along with some fun Q&A-specific questions you might enjoy.

If, after reading this interview, any lingering questions remain… well, that’s what our Answers feature is for!

Are you reading all the Questions and Answers in the Q and A section? -prettydarkhorse

There was a period when I actually did read all of the Questions and Answers published each day. But now there are just too many for me to keep up!

Do you read Hubs for enjoyment? – rebekahELLE

Yes I do. Most days I’ll spend some time in the feed looking at new Hubs that are created. It’s amazing to see how much high quality content is generated on HubPages every day.

Does HP have any Friday traditions? Things like casual day, big box of donuts next to the coffee machine, group lunch at TGIF, etc. – paradigmsearch

We have a team lunch every Thursday.

What motivates you to do the things you do for HubPages? -ripplemaker

I think that we provide a valuable service, and it’s one that I enjoy using myself. I like writing, and think that it’s valuable to provide people with a platform to moneitze their own writing online.

Describe your ideal Hubber? -Marcy Goodfleisch

One who writes about classical music, of course 🙂

What feature on Q&A are you most proud of working on?

I think that transferring ownership of Q&A to Question askers has been an important and fundamental shift to the feature. The basic work there was shifting the Questions to each user’s subdomain and providing basic statistical information to users. More interesting was giving users moderation control: the ability to delete Answers that they feel are not helpful, as well giving users the ability to comment on Answers. I’ve been very encouaged to see how this has improved Q&A, and look forward to see how it evolves over time.

What feature on Notifications are you most proud of working on?

I think that the “auto” aspect of notifications was interesting from a mathematical and data analysis perspective. It also added a lot of value to our users, because it increased the quality of email that we send them.

What feature that you worked on surprised you the most?

I did not expect online notifications to be as much of a hit as they are. We get many more clicks on online notifications than email notifications; I expected it to be the other way around.