Disney. Pictures. Stuff. And so on…

Disney Vanity Plates

The good people over at Chip and Co. posted the question “If you got a specialized Disney car tag, what would it say?”

So, I thought I’d do some searching for Disney vanity plates and here’s what I found. These are used under Creative Commons. Just ask if you want me to take one down.

Do you have one? Share it with us! If not, what would you get??

This one flummoxes me, not sure how you get a heart on your plate.

My favorite

Not strictly Disney, I know

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Another interview that’s been in the can for a while. This is a great one in light of Fantasmic’s 20th anniversary this year.
 

When you ask, sometimes you really do receive. After putting out another call to my fellow university staffers, I found my next interview via her brother-in-law. I met Rosemary Milsap, and her delightful son, at a local coffee shop one brisk but gorgeous day last year. She spent almost 2 hours with me discussing her time with Disney. I learned that we lived in Southern California at same time, living through some earthquakes and the 1992 riots.

Rosemary teaches drama at a local high school (she taught Broadway actor Tituss Burgess!). She shared stories and photos from when she was one of the performers in the first version of Fantasmic back in 1992 at Disneyland in California, plus some great insight into being a Disney performer and what goes in to the audition process. As always, I can’t thank her enough for her time. Enjoy.

Yes, THAT Tituss Burgess…seen here portraying Sebastian in the Broadway version of “The Little Mermaid.”

Tell is about yourself:

I’m Rosemary Milsap, 41, from Augusta, GA. I’ve been in Athens since 1993. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1991 with a degree in Art History. I since gotten my Masters in social science education. In high school, I decided I wanted to be on Broadway and I’ve always loved the theater.

Let’s talk Disney, tell us some of your favorite things about the parks:

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my favorite park and Space Mountain for a ride. I loved “Snow White” as a child and “The Lion King” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” now.

Do you have a favorite Disney souvenir?

My Seven Dwarfs figurines. My son has a stuffed Mickey that I love, and I regularly wore a baseball cap I got there for many years. I still have it.

And finally, a favorite Disney food/treat?

This sounds a little strange maybe, but the gluten-free chicken fingers I got at the Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom. During our first trip to Walt Disney World, I discovered that if you ask, many of the Disney chefs can and will accommodate a variety of food allergies.

 
(Ed’s Note: During my last trip to WDW, I watched a chef at the Rose and Crown discuss cooking options with a family whose child had more than a few food allergies, including preparing the meal with separate cookware. He never batted an eye at the request.)
 

More on Disney and food allergies

Did you ever see a celebrity in the parks?

I don’t recall seeing any, but there were always rumors that a celeb was watching the show (We couldn’t tell as each audience was up to 3,000 people). We performed for a couple of media events when we first opened the show, and we were told we might perform for Micheal Jackson’s birthday. Sometimes, he would rent the park for the night. Memory evades me, but I believe it never happened, if it did he was not present.

But in some ways, Michael was always in the Park…

How long did you work at Disney?

1992 (almost the whole year)

What did you do?

I was a performer in the original cast of the outdoor show Fantasmic at Disneyland; I played a flower petal in the Jungle Book section, a pirate in the Peter Pan section and Doc in the finale section, all within a 1/2 hour show. It was a rush, three times a night. After I saw Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, I know that some of the lineup has since changed–now it’s Lion King instead of Jungle Book and Pocahontas instead of Peter Pan.

Ed’s Note: I would rather see Peter Pan myself, I’ve never thought the Pocahontas segment really fit with the rest of the show. Hook seems like a better villain than Captain Ratcliffe, who just comes off as annoying.

How did you get the part(s)?

My husband and I were living in North Hollywood in Los Angeles and I needed a job. I saw an ad in the paper for a casting call and it looked like fun. At the time, I thought it was a parade audition. During many of our visits to Disneyland, I’d watch the parade and think, “I can do that.” So, I did.

There were hundreds of people auditioning in a giant sound stage in Orange County, we were there for over 6 hours. Another girl and I were two of the last people to audition. When they called us, we had learned a short dance piece, we both froze in place. They allowed us to start over, which seemed strange considering how fast they were eliminating people. I’ve always thought that if one of us hadn’t froze, they would have asked the other to leave, but as we both did, they started again. They wanted to see how we moved, and grouped us by height. Nothing happened that night, then I got call-back, went in and did more movement. Again nothing. Then, I got a third call, and I was getting a little annoyed, but a girlfriend encouraged me to go down and do it. I did and I was one of the last ones to get a part.

The characters were based on height, and I’m around 5’6”, and Doc is the tallest dwarf, so I was aiming for that. But 5’5” was the cut-off, so when it came to me, I got as short as I could.

We all signed six-month performer contracts. We got to pick our schedule, and I only worked on the weekends since I had a day-job up in Pasadena.

Ed’s Note: For any of you who lived or are living in SoCal, take a second to consider the geography here. Rosemary was driving to Pasadena from North Hollywood during the week, then to Anaheim on the weekends. That, my friends, is a lot of road time. She told me that she wasn’t even coming the farthest on the weekends, performers came from the San Fernando Valley, San Diego and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino).
 

After my six months were up, I signed another contract. But about two months in, my husband and I decided to move back to Georgia, and Disney was very gracious to allow to get out of the contract. I was there around eight months.

Tell us your favorite memory of working there?

Spending nights in the park during the months of rehearsal leading up to the show. In the beginning, we rehearsed on a sound stage, then we moved to park. They were rewriting and adjusting the show as we went based on how the performers moved and how fast they could get around during costume changes. The were VERY concerned about the dragon fire, [pyrotechnics and lifts] and making sure we were all safe. The Mickey at the end that rises to strike the final blow shoots up out of the ground like a rocket. These were all untested gags, and we worked very hard to get it right. We found out that so much gas was used for the fire gags that the gas level in Anaheim actually lowered all at once during a show. I was always worried about the ducks in the river.

Once we moved to the park, we worked from midnight until 8 a.m. We had to camp on Tom Sayer Island, which I found amazing. Here we were in this large city, sleeping outside and were perfectly safe. I had a great time. We brought sleeping bags and backpacks. Most performers weren’t allowed to have anything personal inside the park, but since we were there all night and couldn’t leave, we were allowed. I think most people brought books and cards. I played a lot of cards on that island.

Our costumes included a wet suit, sweat suit and t-shirt. We had to wear the sweats and t-shirt on the river crossing to the paddle-boat where we got in costume. The costumes were at the whim of the wind, that’s when my flower petal suit became a strapped-on 7’ sail. It could literally pick you up if you didn’t hang on or lean the right way. The huge water fountains in which they projected video clips would spray you on a windy evening and you would be quite wet (thus the wet suits we all wore). When we were done with one part of the show, we would have to literally run to the next location to get ready for the next section. It was always interesting (but usually fun) running in the dark on and off boats and across the obstacles of Tom Sawyer island! We got pretty good at it after a few good spills and pile ups.

Tell us about a challenging day or event you encountered and what happened:

The LA riots. The whole city was on curfew and it was unclear whether I was expected to report to work or not, but I was scared to drive past dark as that would be breaking curfew for LA county. Finally, I found out they had to cancel the show. I can’t remember how many days we had curfew, but those going to work were allowed to venture out after a day or two.

What was the most interesting event while you were on the clock?

We would have long waits when we were still in rehearsals before the show opened. Often it would be a couple of hours before you were needed again. Since it was the middle of the night, we would sleep in our sleeping bags, or play cards, or talk, but a few times we made up ridiculous games that involved silly charades just to pass the time. All very juvenile. The whole cast was very friendly and fun. A group of us had a sleep over a couple of times. We just enjoyed hanging out, but we all came from different directions up to 2 hours away, so hanging out beyond work wasn’t really feasible.

Tell us something no one knows about Disney:

I always felt a bit like Disney was ‘big brother.” They dictated hair styles for men and women with specifics for every ethnicity and hair type. Of course talent didn’t wear any jewelry, but sales persons were given specific instructions on where and what type of jewelry one can have on (rings, earrings, necklaces). It makes sense from an image standpoint, but it always seemed intrusive. One of the stunt guys for the “Peter Pan section wore a wig so well, that none of us knew he had long hair underneath until they got mad at him and he yelled that he quit and pulled off his wig!

Would you go back?

For a season or two, sure!

Did it help your future career?

I teach theatre, there must be some connection there…..

What, if anything, did you learn from Disney?

Walt Disney was a GENIUS! He really was a visionary.

Are you still in contact with Disney co-workers?

No; I should look them up on Facebook!

What advice would you give to a guest visiting the parks from the perspective of a cast member?

See the shows, they really are good. It’s also fun to imagine what the person underneath the costume looks like and what gender they are (adults only, don’t spoil the magic for the kids)

If you could change anything about Disney, what would it be?

How many guests they will allow in the park at one time. Too many on holidays.

yup

Are you glad you worked there?

Absolutely.

Thanks again to Rosemary, and to you dear readers for continuing to follow these interviews.

Sunlight through a dogwood leaf

Friends, I love my iPhone. I love my iPhone camera more. As my daughter says, “Daddy, do you have to take a picture of EVERYTHING?” Yes, yes I do.

Food, trees, signs, interesting street textures and so on. But, many iPhone camera users have lamented that you can’t really get close up to anything due to its depth of field. And honestly, the iPhone is perfect for close-ups: it’s small and light with a huge viewfinder.

Enter the macro lens, a device that is essentially a magnifying glass for your phone. I know most of you know this already, but I like to be thorough. You can buy one online, they run from around $20 on up. And there are some really cool ones out there. But there are just as many plans online to make your own…and that’s what I wanted to do.

So, the quick rundown is this: find either an old disposable film camera or DVD player; extract the lens from either; attach to a small item like a bottle cap; and attach that to your phone. You have to be careful, you don’t want to scratch the camera lens and you don’t want to affix anything permanent to the phone, so there a multitude of ways to attach the lens. Here’s how I did it…

It can be difficult to find a disposable film camera these days. I’m told Dollar General still have them, but I couldn’t find one locally, so I asked around campus and got two brand new ones! I opened it and started taking it apart.

Once done, I had three lens, the camera lens, the viewfinder and the flash lens.

Hidden Mickey was not intentional…

My daughter and I have been collecting plastic bottle caps for a future project, so I found some that would work.

I cut out holes.

And attached the lens to the caps with hot glue. The camera lens is attached to the cap of a detergent bottle, which allows me to rest the phone one something while I’m taking a picture.

I don’t recommend using hot glue, as the glue is hard to manage in such a small place, and those glue strands get on everything, but it worked ok as a first try.

The trick then was to attach it to the phone. I’ve seen bent wires, rubber bands and even glueing it to an iPhone case. I had none of those things and didn’t want it glued to anything, so I used zip ties.

Bending the zip ties and crimping them with pliers, I got the shape I wanted. It took a couple of times to get it right, hot glue is very forgiving. Once shaped, I glued the lens/cap to the ties and you have what you see above. It slips on and off the iPhone easily and is pretty well lined up with the camera itself.

And as I am want to do, I ran around the house taking pictures:

Playing card before using the lens

…and after

Morning dew on the rose bush

Rose

And that’s that. The other two lens don’t really work as well, but I’ll keep tinkering. It took about an hour and cost me absolutely nothing. I’ll make more, but I was pretty tickled to get this first one built.

Follow me on Facebook, or @tattoed_dad on Twitter and Instagram to see more in the future.

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Friends, if you haven’t Liked us over on Facebook, please do so. We’re posting more daily items there, plus trip tips and news from sources online. So, come join the fun!

Friends, after over a year, I’m finally posting some interviews that had gotten lost in not one, but two hard drive failures. Couple that with one of the busiest fall and springs I think I’ve ever had, and you get a blogger who dropped the ball.

However, I’m here to redeem myself, because I know you’d want me to, and start posting some interviews again. I’ve got three in the can and will present one of them to you today.

Rachel responded to one of my calls on campus tracking down faculty, staff and students who have worked at a Disney park. Rachel was kind enough to not only answer my questions, but meet me for lunch and provide some great pictures. Enjoy.

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Rachel Baginski, I’m 25 and from Tifton, GA. I’ve been married 3 years and work at the University of Georgia in the department of Communication Sciences and Special Education.

What’s your favorite Disney Park?

Disney Hollywood Studios, which is home to my favorite attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Ed’s note: one of mine too.

This is a great look at how the attraction works. Click for more info.

What’s your favorite Disney food or treat?

There are so many. The chocolate covered strawberries that they sell in all the parks are amazing; a Dole Whip, the huge carrot cake wedges, and the cannoli from the Magic Kingdom.

Honestly, who doesn’t love these???

What’s your favorite Disney souvenir?

My Disney College Program “graduation hat.” It’s really a pair of Mickey ears with a tassel attached.  But I had my name embroidered on the back, and it has a place of honor on my bookshelf at home.

Rachel with Prince John at Animal Kingdom, one of the few characters she didn’t have a photo of at the time. She told me that she was at her apartment one day, and got a call that Prince John was in the park and she ran over there to get this. That story makes me smile!

Favorite Disney movie?

It’s a tie between Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.

Did you ever see a celebrity in the parks?

I saw a few. Johnny Depp, Larry the Cable Guy, and the Atlanta Braves during the year I was there.

I don’t think I need to tell you who Larry the Cable Guy is…right?

Tell us about working at Disney:

I was there for 4 months as an Operations Hostess for the American Adventure at the American Pavilion in the World Showcase at EPCOT. I was also in operations at Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Atlanta Braves spring training season, where I helped clean and regulate seating during games.

A great experience at EPCOT. And it doesn’t get visited nearly as much as it should. In fact, you should take a day and do nothing but explore the pavilions at EPCOT. There are walkways, sights and food I bet you’ve never seen at a Disney park before.

I’d just earned my Associate’s degree in only a year, and felt that I should take a little breather before transferring to UGA to finish my degree. I looked into several internship opportunities, but Disney just seemed like the most fun by far.

Participating in the Disney College Program was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I learned much about myself as a person, and a lot of my potential as an employee.  I grew up a great deal over the few months that I worked for Disney, and I would go back and do it all over again if I could.

Why did you leave?

I was ready to get to Athens and begin my tenure as a UGA student. However, I do regret not staying longer now as I would have been allowed to be Snow White’s “friend” if I had stayed.

Tell us your favorite memory of working there:

My happy memories of working for Disney are all pieces of days, rather than the whole day: having tea at the Grand Floridian with my roommates; relaxing on the beach of the Polynesian Resort on my days off; hanging out at the Adventurer’s Club on Pleasure Island; watching Fantasmic for the 15th time.  But one memory does stand out in my mind.  While I was working for Disney, my aunt and uncle adopted a little boy from China named Jack.  My new cousin was very confused, didn’t know much English, and was born without the use of his left hand. I invited them to come down to Disney World so so he could have the Disney experience.  He absolutely loved visiting the China Pavilion at the World Showcase in EPCOT where all the cast members spoke the same language as him.  And to top everything off, one of my roommates was “friends” with Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  So when we arrived in France, Belle was waiting to greet Jack by name.

The China Pavilion is one of the only places you can find Mulan in the Parks.

Did you have any challenging days at Disney?

When I first started working for Disney’s Wide World of Sports, I was placed on parking lot duty to help guide the cars out of the parking lot after the game to avoid major traffic jams.  I was having a good time with my team, and with meeting everyone as the traveled to and from the complex.  However, I have extremely fair skin that no amount of sunscreen can protect if I’ve been in direct sunlight for several hours.  By the time I left work that day, I was bright red and completely miserable.  Needless to say, the next day they relocated me to a shaded area inside the complex.

I can’t even imagine…

Where did you live while you were there?

Vista Way, of course!

Vista Way…though I’ve heard more than a view former Cast Members refer this by other names…you know, college kids away from home…yada, yada, yada

Do you have a favorite hidden Mickey?

I’d have to say my favorite hidden Mickey is at the end of the American Adventure show.  One of the last fireworks to go off at the end of the song explodes in the shape of classic Mickey.  I think it’s my favorite because that’s the one I saw the most often, and I’m very fond of that show and that pavilion.

Tell us one of the most interesting or funniest events while at work:

I was working in the American Pavilion during Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival.  Every evening during the festival, a musician from the 60s or 70s would perform on the large stage that s directly next to the American Pavilion.  What really stood out for me were the nights that Davy Jones performed.  It was hilarious watching women older than my mother act like crazed teenagers, as they screamed and threw themselves at him.  I would go over on my lunch break just to watch the women react.

Jones was a regular performer at Disney Parks over the years. Sadly, he passed away in February of this year.

Tells us something no one knows about Disney:

It is VERY easy to get lost in the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom.

Would you go back?

In a heartbeat.

Did it help your career?

There is something very impressive about having Disney on your resume.  I will say that my customer service is excellent, and Disney is directly responsible for that.

What did you learn from Disney?

I learned that there is magic in everything, and even finding something positive in the tiniest detail can brighten someone’s day.

Are you still in contact with Disney co-workers?

I’m still in contact with most of my roommates from Vista Way, and the other two interns I worked with at the America Pavilion.

Rachel (far left) and friends.

How did you share the Disney magic?

By smiling at everyone, treating every little girl like a Princess, and doing my best to make every guest I encountered have the perfect Disney experience.

If you could change anything about Disney, what would it be?

I would make it a little closer to Athens so I could visit more often!

What advice would you give guests for a Disney vacation?

The best advice I can give guests from a cast member’s perspective is to ALWAYS plan your day before going into any of the parks.  There are so many different things to see or do or eat.  It is easy to get distracted trying to do as much as possible, and then you realize that you’ve spent your whole day literally running around the parks.  Planning ahead ensures that you get the most out of your day.  For example, if you look at a map ahead of time–note the fast pass locations so you can head straight there, get fast passes, go to various other attractions while you wait, have already picked out a place to eat in advance so you don’t wander around for an hour trying to find the place that looks the best, and plan to go to attractions around where you plan to watch a parade or show so you can get to the designated spot quickly.  I figure that if you’ve paid a bundle to get into the parks, you should maximize the time spent there by having a game plan before you arrive.

Map. Get one. Use it.

Also, everyone should definitely take advantage of the transportation that Disney provides on property (buses, monorail, boats).  It is so much better to use this transportation than to attempt to drive from park to park yourself.  You’ll save money on parking, and you won’t have to spend 30+ minutes of your day walking from your car to the gate.

Disney buses are awesome

as are the boats. And there are many to choose from. Try the one from the Transportation Center at the Magic Kingdom to the Wilderness Lodge…great fun.

But the Monorail is king!

Many, many, many thanks to Rachel for sharing and being patient with me all these months. Thanks for reading.

CORRECTION

Friends, I mistakenly mentioned that Michelle was 25 in yesterday’s interview, but she is, in fact, younger. She wishes to keep her age to her self, and as a woman, that’s her prerogative. I apologize for any confusion.

Thanks, and see ya real soon!

Hello friends, here is my second interview with one of the five Design By Me Disney t-shirt contest finalists, Michelle from New York. Michelle was in first place until the end when she ended up in fourth. None of us knows what happened with the voting, and at this point it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is getting to know yet another great artist that loves Disney as much as we do. Michelle has some serious character illustration skills, and I have no doubt that she’ll someday make her way to the Mouse.

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name’s Michelle. I’m 25, a graphic designer and illustrator, and went to school for art and film. Since the age of 3 I wanted to be a part of the entertainment and art industry. I would draw while watching Disney or Don Bluth films, completely inspired. I made flip-books, comic books, and storybooks since 1st grade, and started posting my comics online in high school. Drawing was innate and has always been my passion. I enjoy traveling, reading, hanging out with family and friends, and I love video games. I have a musical webcomic online (bluestreak.smackjeeves.com), and the support and fandom make the time and effort spent on it so worth it. I keep myself creatively stimulated constantly, and that encourages me to always be productive.

I know many of you remember Don Bluth for “An American Tale” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” but I’ll always remember him for making what might have been the greatest arcade game of the 80’s “Dragon’s Lair.”

Ryan, one of Michelle’s creations.

What’s your favorite Disney movie or attraction?

Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s always been my favorite Disneyland/Disney World attraction, and I’ve seen all of the films numerous times. I appreciate when they feature something from the rides in the films, it’s like an inside joke for the fans. I’m also a Johnny Depp fan, and Jack Sparrow is perfect!

Why Disney?

There was always something magical about the fluidity of Disney animation that I was drawn to as an artist. I also like the Disney theme: wishing, dreaming, and getting your heart’s desire. It’s so full of hope. And with the right amount of effort, I do believe anything is possible. Disney reminds us that nothing can stop us from achieving our dreams.

Have you ever entered a contest like this before?

No, I usually don’t enter contests.

Have you ever tried to design for Disney before?

Yes, I’m currently working on obtaining my Disney license so that I can freely draw and sell Disney art in addition to my original art and comics. My Disney Princess series is circulating online. I keep finding it randomly and unexpectedly. I’m enjoying the feedback and would love to take it to the next level and make my Disney art available in the theme parks.

Michelle’s version of Snow White. Check out the rest at the link.

How did you come to your design?

The moment I saw the Design by Me contest info asking for our own artistic interpretation of Mickey, it didn’t take long for me to get straight into the drawing process. I immediately had the concept in my head, and wanted to create Mickey completely in my style to give him my original flavor. I discovered the contest very close to the deadline, so I didn’t have much time to second guess my initial idea.

Tell us about your design process:

My work is 100% digital, but I give it a traditionally painted feel. I know I did something right when people view my work and ask “How did you paint this?” I love the reactions I get when I tell them it’s all digital. I took the same approach with my Mickey design. My goal was to bring a fresh new look to his character in a painted style.

I started with a stick figure sketch, and then digitally painted over it with some paintbrush tools.

I went with a very angular design at first but it was too harsh.

I then redrew the limbs into more wiry and curvy shapes, and started to think of Mickey as a rubbery bendable figure – which is how I usually think of my characters to give them a life of their own.

Stock photo belongs to http://intergalacticstock.deviantart.com/] I pasted my design on a model to test it out. I also used this image to encourage voters to want to wear it, too. According to my site statistics, it drew quite a bit of attention!

Would you do this again?

I think after all the stress and hurt I went through, I’m done with contests for a while 🙂

Did you know about the points?

I only checked the vote stats twice a day. I was offended by the mean comments, because I was accused of something I didn’t even know about, so I just wanted to avoid the voting scene as much as possible. I voted for all of us everyday, and that was the extent of my involvement in the actual voting process. Every time I sent out an e-blast, or a video on Youtube went out, or the tweets started to spread, my numbers would quickly increase. I used every connection I have for this, so the numbers moving fast didn’t even phase me. I thought, Great! Everyone is working hard for me!

Ed’s note: I asked the next question only because so many people commented about this on the Disney Store’s Facebook page. I agree with her comments about the voting issues, Disney may have not done the best job with that. 

How do you answer the cheating questions?

We ALL had invalid votes because the website was accepting votes without any limitations. There was also no warning on the voting page about voting limits, so people who tried to vote more than once didn’t realize they were doing something against the rules – which were not available on the voting page either. I don’t think anyone cheated. I think people were innocently supporting us. And when you see a message on the voting page as vague as “The entry with the most votes by May 2nd…” without any message about how many times to vote, it can be very misleading. The voting was far beyond the finalists’ control. Unfortunately, I had to take the burn because the website was not adjusted during the contest.

Overall, it’s been a very stressful process, and ended with a letdown. I went from finishing in 1st place to getting the biggest shock ever. It was really hard to swallow, but my family, friends, fans, and people who just met me during this contest, have all been so loving and supportive. They helped me stay positive. It’s the number one lesson I gained from this experience; I have the most incredible people in my life right now, and I’m so fortunate for that. I discovered how many hundreds and thousands of people (including those who have never even met me) have my back. I feel like a winner just knowing that.

Many thanks to Michelle for taking some time and opening up about this experience. As I said before, her shirt stirred up a lot of emotions, and many times that’s what good design, or art in general, needs. There’s no question her’s was the most original take on Mickey. I wish her good fortune in pursuing her dream, and look forward to seeing her ideas in the Parks some day!

You can read more about Michelle here, herehere, here and here.

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