17 5 / 2013
16 5 / 2013
‘He thought I was nuts’: Guidance counselor snaps photos of wild squirrels interacting with miniature props
Wednesday was Nancy Rose’s day off. For most of the afternoon, the high school guidance counselor from Bedford, N.S., was crouched on her porch, her camera fixed on a miniature bathtub that was carefully staged on a railing. Ms. Rose was waiting for a squirrel to approach the tub and reach for the peanuts inside. National Post reporter Jake Edmiston interrupted Wednesday’s photo shoot to speak to the photographer, whose whimsical depictions of the woodland creatures are garnering international attention.
Q: So how did this all start?
A: I was taking pictures of the squirrels in my backyard. After taking the same shot over and over again, I decided that maybe I could add something to make it more interesting. One of the first things I noticed was a squirrel standing on a pumpkin, holding a stem. He looked like a ship captain.
Q: How many hours does it take you to get one of these shots?
A: Sometimes I could spend the whole weekend and nothing happens. The squirrel was actually hungry today, so he came back quite a few times. But it might take 30 pictures to get a good shot. He moves so fast.
Q: Hold on, it sounds like you’ve got a dog in the background there? What does he think of all this?
A: Oh? No. Must have been the wind. But I do have a cat. Unfortunately some days she decides to go out and sit on the deck just when I’m ready to get a good shot. She hasn’t gone after them yet, but the squirrels are cautious of her. She’s kind of big, fat and lazy.
Q: How many usual suspects are there?
A: Well there’s one big squirrel I call Mr. Peanuts. I can even go out on the porch and yell “Peanuts” and he’ll come over, and so will the blue jays. I also have two new young ones. They’re just getting warmed up to me. But squirrels are pretty territorial, so if a new one comes the other will try to chase him away. So they have to take turns.
Q: Have you always been this interested in squirrels?
A: No, I probably didn’t know they existed until a couple of years ago. But the people who order my calendars are total squirrel fanatics. They’ve got squirrel collections.
Q: Would you consider yourself a squirrel fanatic?
A: Not to that extent. I’ve got enough squirrel props, I don’t need anything else in my house. My whole dining room is filled with this stuff.
Q: You live with your husband, right? What’s he thinking about all this?
A: He thought I was nuts, until I started to make some money from it.
Q: As of late you’ve been interviewed by media in Canada, Germany and the U.K. You’ve got publishing contracts for your squirrel-themed calendar. But before all the buzz, were people starting to think that Mrs. Rose is starting to lose it?
A: Most of them really didn’t know what I was doing. I made my first calendar for Christmas and I gave it to my family and friends. They were all quite impressed. One sister who I thought was the least impressed was the first to ask for a calendar the next year.
Q: What about the kids at the high school where you work as a guidance counselor? Have they caught wind of your hobby?
A: They think the squirrels are pretty cool. One boy brought me a little toilet. So I’ve got one shot of the squirrel who looks like he’s had a hard Friday night, with some beer bottles around.
Q: You’ve got a little photo studio set up on the railing of your back deck. How’d you manage that?
A: That’s when my husband knew I was serious — when I glued screwed a piece of plywood onto the railing. I kind of rigged up a wire, so I can put a sheet up as a backdrop. I’ll paint it to look like sky or something else. I try to use Photoshop as little as possible.
Q: This sounds like you take this pretty seriously.
A: Well, it’s a lot cheaper than buying clothes. I’ve got enough of those, I’m ready to retire.
from National Post - Top Stories http://bit.ly/YLRsgA
15 5 / 2013
In a culture that outsources everything, it was inevitable some well-heeled Americans would find a way of skipping the tedium of lining up to get into a Disney attraction — especially during the recent Spring Break.
Wealthy mothers from Manhattan are hiring disabled people, who pose as family members, to get onto rides and other attractions at Disney World, the New York Daily News reports.
The hired helpers — given the fancy name of “tour concierge” — are obtained through Dream Tours, a company that helps organize vacations for people with special needs.
The Celebration, Fla.-based firm offers “quality-based, memorable and affordable 24-hour supervised vacation services … to people with special needs,” according to its website.
You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge
The company allegedly takes advantage of a Disney rule that allows guests who need a wheelchair or motorized scooter to bring up to six more people to a “more convenient entrance,” the Post says.
Dream Tours reportedly provides a disabled “escort,” who accompanies the family around the park and to the front of the line at busy rides.
“You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,” said one mother who used its services to zip to the front of the line with her children.
“This is how the 1% does Disney.”
The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their one-year-old son and five-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it.
The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.
“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” she added.
The “black-market” guides run $130 for an hour, and $1,040 for an eight-hour day, the Post reports.
Not only is the Dream Tours’ service more efficient than Disney World’s VIP Tours, it’s cheaper.
Disney Tours offers a VIP guide and fast passes for $310 to $380 per hour.
The company’s phone number was in hot demand over Spring Break. The service asks who referred you before they even take your call, the newspaper said.
The New York mother indicated Jacie Christiano, who works at Dream Tours and is the girlfriend of the tour company owner, Ryan Clement, was the family’s guide. Mr. Clement told the Post Ms. Christiano doesn’t use her disability to bypass lines and says she has an auto-immune disorder.
from National Post - Top Stories http://bit.ly/11EtQ1d