Monday, September 24, 2012

What is a "step-pulse" or how to study when in college

The hubby and I had lunch with a friend on Friday, and in the conversation during lunch, the most effective way of studying while in college came to the topic. So S. turned to me and said "what is a step-pulse?" For this to be funny, you have to know the "rest of the story". But before I go there, I will have to tell you what a step-pulse is. A step-pulse is a synchronization tone/pulse between 2 pieces of equipment (usually electronic) running at slightly different speeds. Think the tones you hear when sending a fax, or for those of us old enough, the sounds of a computer modem dialing in to our internet service provider (isp). Those tones you hear are a type of step pulse, and make it where the machines can talk to each other. The story begins when S. and I were dating, he was in the navy, in school to do electronics. I was a single mother, trying my hand at college again, and we were hanging out more than was healthy for either of our study habits. But on this particular day, S. hands me his text book and says "quiz me on the things on this chapter for class tomorrow." So, in typical college teacher fashion, I looked through the chapter, found the most obscure fact in the middle of a lengthy paragraph and said "what is a step-pulse?" He responded with "honey, they won't go that in depth. They won't have time." I replied with "you are in college now. They expect you to read it all and pick out what you think you need to know. I think you need to know this." So we both learned what a step-pulse was, and continued on with the day. The next day, when in class, the first question out of his instructor's mouth was "What is a step-pulse? Anyone know?" S. was the only one who did. He came over after work, told me about it, we got a good laugh and thought no more about it, until... Some of you may know that in the military, to advance, you have to take a test to prove you know your stuff, both militarily and job-wise. So, you fast forward, we were at our first post school duty station, and he was up for promotion. He goes in, takes the test, and guess what is on the test?! Yep, you got it. "What is a step-pulse". It was on that test, and every single advancement exam he took his entire 12 year naval career. He's been a civilian for many more years than he was in the navy, but we still giggle over that. And when we had lunch yesterday with the same friend and her family, one of the things she said was "and she taught you what a step-pulse was!" Her husband had not heard the story, so we gave him the abbreviated version, and giggled once more. So if you are ever asked "what is a step-pulse?" now you know!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a question of race

This blog post was started and then interrupted. So was never actually posted. Since I think the information in it is important, I've decided to finish it. I do have to add one caveat. I am no longer employed at the location where the initial incident occurred due to staffing reductions. But my reactions to the event remain the same. Here is the initial post.

so, today, something happened that made me stop and think. made me think about my background, my raising, and how far the south has, and hasn't come.

we all have read about the political issues with race relations, you couldn't help but read it. it's everywhere. but that isn't where this is going. i don't care about politics.

this is about descriptions. and how we react to them. let me begin by saying that momma wasn't white. she wasn't black, but she most definitely wasn't white. she couldn't go to the white college. and, if you looked at my half filipina daughter and my mother, you'd swear that i had nothing to do with my child's birth. neither of them are white.

i, on the other hand, am white. i look white. mostly act "white". and generally identify myself as either white, other, or when multiples are an option, i will pick a couple that apply.

well, today, a visibly white student came in and was describing his reaction to a security guard. how he felt intimidated by the guard. who was a larger black woman. he didn't describe her that way, but that is what he meant. but, one of my co-workers is black. i believe she took offense.

I don't know where I was going with this when I started it, but figured I'd try to finish it. I realized today that I had not updated my blog in so long I could not remember my login info! so, here I am, trying to get the drafts finished.

I don't remember the student or incident above, but I saw a posting by a friend on facebook the other day that questioned whether he was naive or just too willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people. the question was whether it was possible that bias and prejudice were not as much an issue when someone was mean to him, but rather that that person was just a mean person.

here is my initial reply:

"the thing to remember is that we all have some kind of "innate" prejudice or bias that we acquire from our infancy/early childhood. the key to objectivity is to identify cause, define the validity (all white folks sunburn maybe?), only then can you act without prejudice or bias. those who say "you must understand because you are ____" have not taken the time to examine the innate prejudices they absorbed before becoming school age (or maybe even after school age, but i am giving the benefit of the doubt here).

therefore my friend, you are taking the stance (perhaps because of or in spite of your early childhood) that most folks have the same biases or you are immune to those with bias, therefore they could not possibly act with bias toward you, but rather because they are just "mean" or "friendly" or "flirty" or "motherly" ;) "

my friend had another person answer and she said:

it's human nature to clump people into a category, (white, black, Hispanic, etc) and how we perceive people comes from how and where we were raised, the influence of our family and friends plays a big role in how we see and treat other people. It is our choice as we get older to determine if we are going to continue along those same lines of thinking. I really don't think that most people, when they pose a question to you like that are trying to be mean necessarily, it is just an automatic assumption that you might be able to relate to whatever. Just continue to be the awesome person you are and try to let statements like that roll off your back, flash them that great smile and answer the main point of their question the best way you can.

and my reaction to her reply
"I like her answer. And I will add one more comment to what she said. Sometimes, the question is not really so much one of being mean but rather trying to understand something that is different from what they are used to, and they might not have the social skills to ask in an appropriate manner."
so back to the original post... that i can't remember the origin of, yes, there are times when we associate certain things with certain criteria. a big black woman (or a big man of any color for that matter) dressed in a uniform may be intimidating. was it the color? the size? the uniform? i don't know any of those answers, but i do know that we all have to examine our reactions (when it is appropriate to take the time - genuine fear does not count) and determine if there is a valid reason for them. more on this later!!