Michelle Lawless

Michelle is currently in the first year of her third attempt at college- 3rd times the charm, right?  She enjoys writing, reading, roaming Middle earth, Great Big Sea, and looking up everything about anything. She recently found her great-grandmother in early microfilm ship records and won’t stop until she finds the rest of her family. A warning- as an Aspie, she hates long winded speeches and is chronically unable to defend points of argument.

Modern Monarchy:
The Fairytale Wedding

A look at what it means for us today to see Will & Kate’s big day.

Sunday
Mar272011

Satellite Man

This story takes place in a car.

I’m kidding, of course-this story does not take place in a car, but outside of it. It’s being told in a car, though, and this is important; just as interviews aren’t always conducted across tables, so satellite technology is not solely controlled by a geek sitting behind a computer desk.

The technicians who work on the satellites for the aptly-named Telesat are not computer geeks; far from it, in fact. Their jobs involve more than just pushing buttons, though button-pushing is involved. In the words of one technician, “I’ve always been interested in pushing buttons, and computers have lots of buttons.

And the Telesat fleet must certainly have many buttons. There are three satellite fleets- Anik, Nimiq, and Telstar; the company’s first satellite, Anik A1, was launched in 1972. Here in 2010, there are currently twelve satellites active and two under construction, one of which is set to start working later this year.

What do these satellites do, you may ask? Well, they do a variety of things. The Anik satellites cover the Americas, providing coverage to even the most remote communities; one of the Aniks, F1, is one of three satellites serving the Latin American region, and is preferred choice for government projects and long distance learning. The next fleet, the Nimiq series, is used solely by Bell TV to provide services to North American consumers; appropriately, its name is Inuit, a word for “a thing or a force which binds things together.”  And the third group, the Telstar fleet, was the first to deliver a live intercontinental between the states and Europe; today, the fleet includes satellites over Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as here at home.

With a variety of functions for these satellites to perform, you might ask- what kind of person does it take to maintain them, and what are they like? Well, first of all, I can tell one thing that they aren’t, and that is owners of pocket protectors.

For consideration, I give you one such technician; he goes by the name of Peter, and he’s a regular guy, just like you or me. When he was growing up, he wanted to be a mechanic; at the age of 4, he was folding sheet metal with the help of his grandfather, who he identifies along with his father as someone who has had the most impact on his career choice and its path. Even now, when asked if he could be anything else, he simply replies, “a mechanic.”

In school, Peter chose to major in Computer Technology, because, as he said it, “computers have a lot of buttons.” And, of course, he has always been interested in pushing buttons; additionally, he likes what he does because he likes making machines do things for him; he also likes seeing results quickly.

As to his current job, he likes it for its versatility; after all, work involving the satellites doesn’t only mean mechanics. There’s theory involved, and programming, and things like keeping an eye on radiation measurements and observing the satellite orbits; and, if you get tired of one thing, you can always go to another. When he was hired, Peter was hired because he has mechanical abilities; since then, he says that working this job helps in becoming something more.

What does Peter do? Well, in his job, he might be doing something like finding a new orbital position for a satellite; and, once it’s launched, thanks to Peter’s help, that satellite will be performing duties that will include things like providing access to anyone above the 80th parallel. Alongside that, the satellite will also be doing things like sending information to Environment Canada, on topics such as the thickness and movement of the ice shield. Or it might also be sending out data on the movements of the clouds- or maybe it will be sending out transmissions that could be important to the issue of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.

Due to the fact that some of Peter’s work involves issues like arctic sovereignty, there is a limit to how much we can find out, and to how much someone like Peter can divulge. Things like ideas that have been had or implemented fall into the ‘hush-hush’ category; all Peter himself can tell me about his ideas is that most of them have been in relation to cost-saving measures. But again, still, he can’t talk about specifics. What he can talk about, on the other hand, turns out to be really cool, and he says it’s his proudest achievement- finding a new orbital position. Specifically, he found a new orbital position for a new polar satellite, something that gets put on a nationwide patent sort of scale. Ideas like his, he says, could and do save lots of money- serious money, too. Like, millions of serious reasons could potentially be involved.

When he’s working, Peter says that his ideal working would be that someone might tell him what to do, and that they would then leave him alone to work on it afterwards. When ask him how he would feel about working for someone who knows less than him, Peter’s first response is to tell me that that is a loaded question. Following that, he tells me that he wouldn’t have any problems working for someone who knows less than him- as long as that person is willing to accept his knowledge in turn. It is a team effort, after all.

Considering the question of what he might look for in someone he was interviewing for his position, Peter takes a minute to think before giving an answer. His eventual response is to say that no one person is right for the job; as such, he wouldn’t necessarily be looking for a set of exacts. Rather, he would be looking for a variety of qualities, a multitude of aptitudes, the most of which would be the ability to learn quickly. Peter is of the mind that a person’s ability to learn and adapt is the issue of more importance.

If you or I were the ones interviewing for a position like Peter’s, we might want to consider the example of someone already doing that job. But we wouldn’t be considering just clinical aspects; one question we would be asking ourselves might be ‘what kind of man is this Peter?’ If we were to ask Peter a question, it might be something like listing five words to describe his character. If the person we were interviewing is anything like the Peter in this article, he will list words like eager, resourceful, logical, independent, and even rebel. Eager means his eagerness to learn, and resourceful speaks to his adaptability; logical speaks to his knowledge of anything technical; and independent and rebel could mean that he has his own ideas and own level of creativity, both things that we could apply as assets if we were to hire him.

 

If we were in Peter’s position, it’s fun to consider what our own personality traits might be, and whether or not they would be similar to Peter’s; for example, would we also want to have dinner with historical figures like Da Vinci, Rubik, or Nostradamus? If we won the lottery, would we want to buy a farm to grow crops or raise animals? If we had to travel to Newfoundland, would we kiss a puffin’s rear?

Maybe we would, and maybe we wouldn’t. All I know is, if the computer geeks apply for this job, they’ll get turned down, because this would be WAY out their league. Satellites involve much more than just computers and they need cool people to work them.

Saturday
Mar122011

In all seriousness...

Last time I was here- and, for that matter, every time I’ve been here- my postings have been somewhat light hearted. I think that maybe it’s time to get a little more serious.

William and Kate are contusing to make engagements ahead of their big day. On a romantic note, they’ve been doing so because William has stated that he ‘wants to introduce her to the entire country.’ So far, he’s doing a good job. First, there was the previously mentioned boat launch in Wales; then. There was the nostalgic return to St Andres University in Scotland, where they two of them first met. After that, for a little while, we weren’t sure exactly where it was that they had gone. Turns out, they went to Northern Ireland.

This serves as a reminder for some people- while the monarchy is seen sometimes as nothing but a symbolic institution, there are some who obviously take it seriously enough that they would still make threats against them- in other words, Irish separatists, or at least, that’s what the implication is. Turns out, though, that they really didn’t need to worry, because William and Kate were welcomed in Belfast with open arms. William even relaxed enough to admit that he was ‘terrified’ of marriage. (Joke! obviously)

The fact that they we welcomed so openly demonstrate the impact that they and their marriage will have on the world, or even just the monarchy itself. William and his brother Harry have always been somewhat like pop culture icons, young and hip. I mean, who didn’t love William giving a rap star shoulder roll clad in Canadian Olympic winter gear? (Le sigh)

Anyway, these days, royalty have become more prominent and visible to younger people, so they are starting to form opinions about the monarchy and what they want from it, or whether they want it at all or not. William and Kate’s wedding will make the Royals even more relatable, at least to young people. The fact that a prince is marrying a down to earth English girl just like any of us will stick in our minds, and people might start to think that the monarchy might be worth having around after all, that a monarchy with a new and younger monarch can work just as well as the one we’re used to. There can be that transition, and the Royal wedding is going to help make that happen.

Tuesday
Mar012011

Fiction: Talking

“I’m telling you, Alan, it just isn’t normal.”

                Colin looked up from his book as the sound of his aunt’s voice floated in from the kitchen.

                “the psychiatrist said it was perfectly normal, Ellen, especially given what she’s been through already.”

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar012011

Two months....

As of today, there are-(checks calendar)- 62 days until the royal wedding, and all indications are that it’s still on track to be as personal an affair as William and Kate can make it.

First, in the wind-up to the wedding, William and Kate have made their first official joint engagement-yay! They christened and launched a lifeboat. (Really, a lifeboat?) The main significance of this engagement is that a) they did it together, and b) they did it in the community they have been living in for the past year and will be living in for the next few years as William finishes his military tour. Their next trip was equally personal- they went to where they had met, St Andrews University, for its 600th anniversary. This is being touted as Kate’s big introduction to royal life.

Now, on to other matters of significance. Keeping with what is a tradition in some places, William and Kate have chosen to have a very young group of attendants at their wedding, Excepting, of course, the Mo Hand best man, that is- in other words, Kate’s sister and William’s brother, Pippa and Harry. Everyone else, though, is a small child. All of the children are the children of close friends of the couple or they are close relatives. In the category of children of friends are the page boys, tom Pettifer and William Lowther Pinkerton; also in this category is bridesmaid grace van Cutsem. The rest of the attendants are all related in some way to William- Eliza Lopes is the daughter of Williams stepsister, Margarita Armstrong Jones is the granddaughter of Princess Margaret, William’s late great-aunt; and Lady Louise Windsor is his cousin, the daughter of his uncle, HRH the earl of Wessex.

Equally personal, it is said, is the guest list for the wedding- as personal as one can get when 1900 invitations have been sent out anyway. Of those 1900 invitations, 1000 have been sent to family.

Of those 1900 guests invited, 600 will join the happy couple and Her Majesty for lunch, and only a further select 300 will join the family for dinner.

The larger guest contingent is broken down somewhat as follows- fifty British royals have been invited, as have 40 or so foreign royals- including the King of Bahrain, which, in light of the current situation in that country, might raise a few eyebrows. Also invited and close to the couple are servicemen from the RAF base at which William is currently serving, as well as the Household Cavalry, another regiment in which he has served. Not invited, interestingly, is Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York- but, then again, she and Prince Andrew have been divorced for 15 years, they were married in the Abbey(which might bring up memories), and, poignantly, Sarah would have to sit with the masse instead of with her daughters at the front. One might think she would have declined anyway.

Since the wedding is not a state occasion, world leaders such as the Obamas have not been invited- the trade-off for that one is that Obama will be making a State visit in the summer. Fittingly, 200 representatives form areas such as the government and the diplomatic corps have been invited, as have representatives of the various Commonwealth realms- including Canada’s own Prime Minister and governor General. Representatives from William’s various charities have also been invited, as have a number of celebrities- including the Beck hams.

 



Friday
Feb112011

Wedding One

  As of today, there are – (checking the clock) - 77 days until the wedding. Woo Hood!!

                Okay, kind of an enthusiastic opening.

                Anyway, more details are available, and continue to become available, courtesy of la twitter. How cool is that, by the way- the biggest public event for the Royals in known memory, and they are releasing news to the world via social media! Talk about modern!

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb082011

Film Review: the King's Speech

At first glance, one might not know what to make of the King’s Speech.

That’s because it starts off on an equally uncertain note- the awkward and painful of George the Sixth’s- then Duke of york- speech at the close of the Empire Exhibition. Intimidated by the number of people in the stadium and on the field before, His Royal Highness Prince Albert could not avoid the problem that had plagued him since his early childhood- a persistent and disabling stammer.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan282011

At the Beginning...

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bertie. He lived with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two daughters, Lilibet and Margaret, in a nice house in Piccadilly Square in London. Life was perfect- except that Bertie had a stammer and wasn't very good at public speaking, which he had to do alot of. After a particularly bad speech, he found a nice man to help him with his stammer, and for awhile everything seemed okay.

But then Bertie's older brother decided to give up being the head of the family business, and so Bertie had to step up, even though he was very shy and still had difficulty speaking. He even had to stop calling himself Bertie  and start to call himself George. He couldn't have been lerss suited to the job if he had tried, some thought.

And then the war came.

But, surprisingly, instead of cowering in a corner like people might expect him to do, Bertie worked very hard, both on his speeches and on his dealings with people, because all he wanted, simply, was to do a good job. And he became a hero, through all of his hard work.

 

Forget the fairy tale of William and Kate... this one's got a lot more meaning.

Friday
Jan282011

Movies, Mermaid Skirts, and Garden Benches

Most people probably think the monarchy is antiquated, out-dated, whatever. But William and Kate's wedding is set to prove everyone wrong. It's got the whole world talking- and, here in Canada, the talk is going non-stop. the design consultants on canada AM think Kate would be flattered by a mermaid skirt; the government will be spending roughly the same amount on William and Kate's gift that they spent on the approaching-ludicrously-priced almost $20,000 garden bench they sent to Charles and Camilla. (20K, seriously?!) But, while the excess is full front, so are the counter reminders that the Royals are people just like any of us.

Click to read more ...