Finnish photographer Alison Buttigieg loves cats. The Internet loves cats. But these days Buttigieg hates the Internet because it’s lying about one of her cat photos.
It all started Feb. 11. Someone who knows her work as a wildlife photographer recognized a cheetah picture of hers online. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise — Buttigieg published the “remarkable” photo on her blog, Facebook and Instagram last November after it won an international award. But the flood of messages that started pouring in from strangers that day stunned her.
An intellectual property thief had stolen her photo, invented a feel-good back-story for it, and engineered a viral sensation — one that wasn’t exactly flattering to Buttigieg. The tall tale portrayed the three cheetahs in the photo as heartless killers, their impala prey as a self-sacrificial mother and Buttigieg as a fragile soul who sank into depression after documenting a feline feast.
“In the beginning I thought it was absolutely hilarious, even the trolling,” she told me in an email interview six days after the hoax spread. “But then it was suddenly really overwhelming when I realized there wasn’t much I could do.”
Buttigieg is an information technology consultant whose passion for animals and for wild places inspired a foray into photography. She has carried a camera on wildlife journeys around the world for 13 years and started taking the photographic aspect of her observations more seriously about four years ago.
“I see my photos as a means to spread awareness about wildlife and the need to protect them and their habitat,” she said.
Buttigieg has shot pictures on three continents — Africa, Asia and South America. Her favorite places include Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana and South Africa, and the Massai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. In September 2013, she was near the latter location, at the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, when she saw a family of cheetahs trap a lone impala.
Cats of all kinds fascinate Buttigieg because of their beauty and expressive faces. Cheetahs stand out in the felidae species for their speed, quirks and sounds. The guides at the conservancy knew she loved cheetahs, and a mother and two adolescents were near the camp during her visit.
Read the rest of the story at Medium.
Filed under: Blogging and Human Interest and People and Photography and Social Media and Technology and Travel and Wildlife
I went there for about three weeks in May/June 2004 to visit the preacher our congregation supported in Nizhny Novgorod and to meet the brethren there. We also spent a few days site-seeing in Moscow. It was one of the most enlightening experiences of life.
I initially laughed like every other spoiled American at the gripes from journalists as they arrived in Russia last month to cover the Olympics. But an article about the #SochiProblems later reminded me that, sadly, they were reporting realities that Russians face every day.
Here are two telling excerpts from the blog PolicyMic:
Filed under: Blogging and Culture and Human Interest and News & Politics and Photography and Travel
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Nothing aggravates me more as a commuter than watching other commuters repeatedly break the law, whether they are driving in the high-occupancy vehicle lane of I-66 without enough passengers or riding Virginia Railway Express without paying their fares.
Most of us commuters abide by the rules and pay our way, so I for one love watching the scofflaws get busted for their bad behavior. A case in point — this guy who has taken to riding the same VRE train as me in the evening but who apparently thinks he rides for free:
The first time I saw him, he made a huge scene by pretending to have lost his ticket after he boarded the train. He searched every pocket of his coat, his pants, his shirt and his bag. He lifted the VRE seat where he had been sitting and the empty one across from it. He scoured the floor. He obviously never found the ticket because he never had it, so he was fined.
The man has been on the train several times since but hasn’t been asked to show his VRE ticket. His luck ran out yesterday, and this time he made more of a scene, accusing two different VRE attendants of harassing him. The charge this time: riding with an invalidated ticket.
The rider blamed a faulty machine at Union Station, one that no other riders had mentioned. The VRE attendant who ultimately issued the fine reminded him that he is obligated as a rider to let a VRE attendant know of such a problem before he boards the train.
The cheater’s response, and I quote: “I’m gonna bring a lawyer with me the next time I ride, and I’m gonna sue you all for harassment. … I’ve spent $25,000 on VRE over 10 years’ time.” (At $150 a pop for riding without paying, I’ll bet most of his commuting investment came in the form of fines, assuming he’s even telling the truth about that.)
His stories aren’t believable, and neither are his threats. My guess is that I’ll see this rider on the train soon, without a lawyer and probably without a ticket. I’ll look forward to watching him get fined again.
Filed under: D.C. Commuter Diary and People
When things break in the D.C. subway system, the world’s brightest engineers gather in a room to brainstorm the best solution. And when all their genius ideas fail, they resort to the most reliable redneck repair — duct tape!
This photo is from the Metro Center station, the hub of the entire subway system. I also saw another duct-tape repair in another station.
Filed under: D.C. Commuter Diary and Government and Just For Laughs and Photography and Redneck Humor
A couple of weeks ago, amid a rain-saturated week, thousands of riders on Virginia Railway Express had to catch cabs or find other rides home when VRE canceled some service during the Thursday evening journey. Many people spent hours stuck in commuting limbo and no doubt were furious.
After seeing this picture, which VRE published in a newsletter for passengers this week, they should be grateful to VRE, as well as the rail owners CSX and Norfolk Southern, for avoiding a tragedy:
But VRE passengers also should be outraged that the rail lines didn’t impose speed restrictions earlier Sept. 8 — and that VRE didn’t pressure the rail lines to do so (at least so far as we riders know). The policies in place for determining when to slow trains for safety reasons and when to let them chug full steam are utterly nonsensical and thus both aggravating and dangerous at the same time.
The proof of this was evident a few weeks before the pictured ballast collapse on the Fredericksburg Line. The aggravation reached a pinnacle Aug. 18, when Norfolk Southern imposed speed restrictions of 15 miles per hour during an evening commute that barely got the tracks wet.
It was a knee-jerk decision driven by the same kind of mentality that prompts schools and local governments in the Washington area to close at the mere chance of snow or ice rather than visible precipitation. Our “turtle train” arrived more than an hour late, long after the few sprinkles had fallen. VRE fielded numerous complaints and shared that customer aggravation with Norfolk Southern.
That aggravation, followed days later by a legitimate earthquake-induced nightmare commute for VRE riders, likely led to Norfolk Southern’s dangerous leniency in imposing flood restrictions during heavy rainfalls the week of Sept. 4.
After catching grief from both VRE customers and VRE as a client, the rail company didn’t want to repeat its mistakes of the recent past, so it erred in the opposite direction. This, too, is the reaction of schools and local governments after they are rightly mocked for closing prematurely.
All of us VRE riders are glad that the long-distance vision of a locomotive engineer avoided tragedy Sept. 8, and we truly appreciate the commitment of both VRE and Norfolk Southern to our safety. We just wish they would exercise better judgment about when to impose speed restrictions based on fears of flash floods that could compromise the tracks.
(Editor’s note: I travel the Manassas Line and actually telecommuted the day before and the day of the track collapse covered in this blog post to avoid delays. I was stunned that the rail companies took so long to impose speed restrictions, tweeted my disgust as I watched the real-time updates on VRE’s Twitter account, and was mortified when I saw the picture of the ballast collapse.)
Filed under: D.C. Commuter Diary and Government and News & Politics and Photography
If you want to see the incompetence of bureaucracy, look no further than the case of the “serial pooper” at a Washington, D.C., Metro station.
The Washington Examiner reports that earlier this week, a Metro passenger complained to a station manager about a pile of human waste on a bridge between the Metro station and property managed by another commuter train, Virginia Railway Express.
Rather than immediately assign one of Metro’s overpaid workers to clean the mess, the station manager made excuses about why it wasn’t Metro’s responsibility. He said the feces were on VRE’s property.
Metro eventually power-washed the bridge while VRE staffers watched, but by then, another pile had appeared, thus leading to the “serial pooper” theory.
So to recap: For four days, a pile of poop sat on a bridge while bureaucrats at two government-funded transportation agencies squabbled over who had to clean it up. Meanwhile, a That’s bureaucracy for you.
Filed under: D.C. Commuter Diary and Government and News & Politics
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My wife Kimberly is a new business owner. A few weeks ago, she decided she wants to offer historical walking tours, in antebellum garb, through Old Town Manassas.
She took to the task of starting her business with gusto and made her debut appearance in costume yesterday at the annual Manassas Railway Festival. I took photos at the event and created a slideshow. Enjoy it … and if you’re in the Washington, D.C., area and would like to join Kimberly on the premier walk come July 30, you can reach her at 571-425-2888.
Filed under: Business and Culture and History and Photography and Travel and Video
I arrived home to a snowy scene after my Wednesday evening commute. For once I was glad to be a VRE passenger because I heard nightmares of eight-hour commutes (and more) on the snow- and ice-slicked roads. Some people stayed in hotels for the night rather than brave the nightmare traffic.
It was a mild storm compared with the blizzards of December 2009 and February 2010 in the Washington, D.C., region but still bad enough to make the next morning’s commute a challenge.
I did not rise to the challenge. Instead, I opted for telecommuting. I could have taken VRE, but it was running on a limited schedule and wasn’t worth the hassle. Plus who wants to walk through piles of unshoveled snow on D.C. sidewalks to get to work?
Filed under: D.C. Commuter Diary and News & Politics and Photography
This was my life yesterday morning, which ended in my wife having to drive 30 miles round trip to rescue me and a stranded friend so we could salvage part of the workday:
As the Examiner noted, yesterday’s nightmare was not an isolated incident. Persistent breakdowns and delays, including two nightmares that I avoided last week thanks to VRE email alerts and a loving wife-turned-emergency-responder, have plagued the Manassas Line since summer. I have a loyal readership of Facebook friends and Twitter followers who love reading about the misery in real time.
Filed under: Business and D.C. Commuter Diary and Government and News & Politics
The U.S. Postal Service has no official creed, but it has this inspiring myth going for it: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
The Virginia Railway Express could use a strong dose of postal pride because today we riders received an uninspiring, excuse-filled message from the CEO about how we can expect bad weather to make our lives miserable. Rain and the flash-flood warnings it occasionally brings are the bane of his existence.
“While we all know it, it is easy to forget what a strong force water can be,” CEO Dale Zehner wrote in his monthly e-mail. “Flash floods can cause instability in the tracks. Or worse, depending on the force of the water, a flash flood can wash out a section of tracks. Because of this, Norfolk Southern’s operating rules require all passenger trains to operate at restricted speed, under 15 mph. For our Manassas Line riders, this can be quite a long commute.”
Tell me about it. I lived that nightmare commute a few times during the summer. The bad news is that I may have to endure it again this fall, this time because of something worse than mere water — leaf oil. Here is Zehner’s explanation:
In other words, we may be living in the 21st century, but leaf oil still trumps locomotion.
I have the sinking feeling that I’ll be getting another batch of unwanted free-ride certificates from VRE over the next few weeks because of extra hours on the train. The question is how many hours I will endure before I decide I’d rather drive to work and fight the highway traffic.
Filed under: Business and D.C. Commuter Diary
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