Politeness Interruptus — Chivalry 101 Not Part of YSU Curriculum
If chivalry is not dead, it has certainly at least been MIA for quite some time now. Opening doors, standing when a lady enters the room, flinging a coat over a muddy puddle of water—all seem like actions that might take place in a Disney fairytale rather than in real life anymore. While some of these exaggerated niceties of yester-year may have disappeared with time, what is there to say about the not-so-exaggerated ones? Simple acts of common courtesy seem to be following the same route as these archaic gestures, and it is especially apparent on college campuses.
Sophomore Kaley Kastner of Lisbon is one of the many who does not see this type of behavior as being a real problem. She confessed, “I feel that people are just more casual today than in previous years. I personally think that politeness has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s world, and this new standard just reflects the changing times.”
So the question then becomes: does today’s society condone bad manners? Or even, sadly enough, justify them?
One of the biggest factors playing a part in strengthening the civility strike is technology. Through texting, cell phones allow people to communicate without even talking anymore, mp3 players create private bubbles that excuse listeners from having to converse, and portable laptops facilitate independent study and even make group projects doable through indirect interaction like e-mailing. Today’s must-have devices promote a sense of isolation, and so a lack of regard for other people becomes a natural habit for individuals.
Students Brandi Hess and Ryan Antonucci agree. Hess stated, “People have forgotten what leaning on each other and interacting with people are like.” She noted that the increase in impersonal technology gadgets leads to students becoming more wrapped up in themselves than with anyone else.
Antonucci also observes the effects of cell phones on campus and commented that students “are oblivious to everything and everyone around them.” When asked what he thought the cause of this ignorance to be, he replied, “It’s just a changing society. Americans traditionally are fast-paced in their lives and often think of politeness as a waste of time.”
This thought leads to another important dynamic in today’s manners crisis: a high-stressed, hurried lifestyle. While technology may be partly to blame for student impoliteness, classes and workloads may, in turn, be responsible for the wide-spread use of technology.
With a great emphasis now placed on the importance of building a résumé, gaining experience, getting good grades, and staying well-rounded to be able to compete in today’s job market, students must deal with a lot of added pressure that did not necessarily exist for previous generations. Finding a way to fit all of these prerequisites into schedules requires a lot of time management and little room to waste. Text-messaging and e-mailing become essential to students who want quick and easy ways to contact people without having to squander precious minutes chatting.
These conveniences do not completely compensate for a full workload, however. Fifth-year student Sarah Bates recognizes this fact and cites the enormous amount of stress felt by most students as another reason for rude behavior around campus. She does not think stress should be an excuse to be rude though. She sees common courtesy as an constructive obligation. “We never know if that one single act of kindness is the only one that a person will see that day, and regardless, being courteous is not difficult.”
Students are not the only ones conscious of the politeness problem at the university either. Faculty members more than anyone else also notice the lack of respect paid to others when dealing directly with many students each day in classes.
Dr. Ronald Shaklee is the director of the University Scholars and Honors Program at YSU. Besides just working with students in the Cafaro dorms though, he is also a professor in the Geography Department and interacts with students in class. Shaklee tends to see student behavior as a reflection of the times as well. “I think it is a societal issue. Students have become used to the instant electronic world. They aren’t content to sit and take in traditional lectures.”
Shaklee did not find competition to be a cause for disrespect, however, and instead considered a lack of motivation to be the culprit. He explained, “College may have been a default decision given the local job market. Since it might not have been a first choice option, behavior would reflect the lack of motivation for being in the classroom.”
No matter what the cause or the personal obstacles may be though, politeness still remains a simple standard that should be maintained in society. Bates encouraged, “We all have our tough days, but taking a second to do something for someone else can help us to refocus our perspectives and, who knows, maybe even shake the negative attitude.”
High definition lowdown in Valley
With the Federally mandated digital changeover only a few months away, many people still seem confused about what digital television is. The digital television is simply the replacement of the analog broadcast that has dominated over-the-air (OTA) transmitting for the last 70 years. What digital television is not is all high definition, all the time.
In fact, the principles have not changed that much. The television signal is still transmitted over the airwaves, while needing good weather conditions and decent line of sights towards the transmitter from your house. The only difference is in the way that your television will interpret the data being sent. While televisions from the past half century have had to deal with ‘snow’ or ‘ghost’ for weak signals, with the new digital broadcasting the signal either comes in or it does not.
“Used to be that if you turned on a hair dryer, it could cause you to lose your signal with rabbit ears, that still exists even with digital,” WFMJ chief engineer Bob Flis said.
High definition broadcasting in the Mahoning Valley is scant but growing. Youngstown is a moderate sized city and the high definition availability of the alphabet soup of the major networks is moderate as well. While three of the four are transmitted OTA in high definition, the range and quality varies.
WFMJ, the NBC affiliate of Youngstown boasts to be the ‘Valley’s only locally owned television station. It is also the only standalone station in the area as well. Whether it is the local ownership or the singularity of the stations affiliate, WFMJ finds itself at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to broadcasting in high definition.
“We have a five gallon bucket that only holds five gallons,” Flis joked.
The WFMJ transmitter, limited to 460 kilowatts, can only broadcast a certain amount of bandwidth. So, inside that bandwidth, they must transmit the high definition feed of the NBC affiliate as well as the standard definition feed of the CW Network. As Flis put it, they can fill that five gallon bucket with Kool-Aid or water and it is up to them to decide how strong the Kool-Aid (or high definition feed) is and how much water (the CW standard) they put in.
While the station would like to be able to offer the CW, or the newly announced Universal Sports channel that is replacing the recently cancelled NBC-run Weather Plus, they prefer to provide the best quality NBC programming they can without splitting the bandwidth too much.
Recently, the Youngstown CBS affiliate WKBN and the ABC affiliate WYTV consolidated, allowing the two stations to pool resources. As a result, the chief engineer Tom Zocolo manages the Youngstown affiliates of CBS, ABC and their smaller properties in FOX and MyTV. This has given the station both opportunities and restrictions.
“We’re very excited about the maximized output coming on WYTV,” Zocolo said.
WYTV recently applied for and began purchasing equipment to increase their transmission capabilities to 1 million watts. That would move it ahead of the 760 kilowatts that their sister station WKBN transmits at. As of now, WYTV has difficulty reaching very far outside of the Youngstown city limits, but with the maximized signal will allow them to meet the demands of their viewing area. Even with the higher transmitting wattage, WYTV will still lag behind WKBN in broadcasting area for the same reason it would have 50 years ago; location. WKBN’s transmitter is located out a higher elevation, which gives the station’s signal a better chance of traveling.
The biggest restriction comes with the local FOX affiliate, WYFX. This has long been a low power station. The station is broadcast from transmitters on channel 17 out of the Sharon/Mercer area and channel 62 at the WKBN building. By being a low power station, WKBN has been able to combine the two on their digital transmission. When the digital changeover takes effect, WYFX will be only available on channel 27.2.
The dilemma lies in being able to provide the FOX network feed, which features primetime programming as well as some of the biggest sporting events of the year, in high definition.
“The station doesn’t have the allocation for its own channel in high definition,” Zocolo said.
Currently, the technology does not exist to allow the station to broadcast two high definition feeds over one channel. Zocolo said that the station is watching some emerging test applications in other cities that may allow for that to happen in the future. To compensate on big ticket sporting events, WKBN shuts down their high definition transmission for a short time and broadcasts the live FOX HD feed on 27.3, something that digital transmissions affords them the ability to do over the air.
In regards to cable, WKBN was blessed with serendipitous fortune.
“We are located on Sunset Boulevard and it just so happens that we are right on the dividing line of Time Warner and Armstrong’s coverage,” Zocolo said.
By being that close to both cable systems, WKBN was able to offer the WYFX high definition feed through a fiber optic line to be rebroadcast by the cable companies. For many in the Youngstown area, this allows WYFX to reach their house in high definition. Those with the third local cable company, Pennsylvania based Comcast, are not so lucky. Due to location, WKBN is unable to offer a fiber optic line to Comcast for retransmission.
Perhaps the biggest high definition move the local stations can make is towards broadcasting the local news in high definition. However, don’t expect to see that any time soon. Both WFMJ and the WKBN/WYTV engineers would like to eventually adopt high definition equipment into the newsrooms but there are no current plans to do so.
“It would take a huge amount of capital to replace all the equipment, cameras and switchers in the studio,” Zocolo said.
As a local affiliate, the stations are privy to filling ‘down time’ with syndicated programming. These programs range from Oprah to Star Trek to Seinfeld and all are offered from their production companies in high definition resolution. The problem is equipment and standardization.
“The feeds are available but the problem is the programs aren’t all standardized to the same format,” Zocolo said.
The network feeds are made up of the daytime, primetime and news programming and are retransmitted by the local station live as they come in from the network. This requires no additional equipment to record and save the program. With syndicated programming, the feed must be recorded, saved and then rebroadcasted at another time.
WFMJ currently does not have the equipment to do high definition syndicated programming. WKBN/WYTV recently upgraded their system to handle syndication and while the use of it has been sparse, they did broadcast their first syndicated program with the showing of programming block of ET and Insider.
The votes of soldiers did not count in recent election
They defend our freedom. They protect our rights. They sacrifice for us. But their votes did not count.
According to the National Defense Committee, nearly 24 percent of all military absentee ballots were “lost” during this presidential election.
Erin Laughlin, a 22-year-old Cadet in the Army ROTC program at Youngstown State University explained, “That is a huge deal. The people who are giving us the right to vote, their votes aren’t getting counted. Something needs to change for the next election.”
Major Michael C. Stull, a professor of military science at YSU said, “They have the same right as American citizens. It’s disconcerting soldiers votes weren’t counted.”
Struthers native Jim Woodward, a Cadet in the Army ROTC program at YSU agreed: “I think every American should have the privilege to vote for their leader. It is a right for the military and we need to do whatever it takes so their voices are heard.”
But this problem is not fresh; it has plagued past elections as well.
Ed Traficant, a YSU student and US Navy veteran recalled, “That’s been an issue for a lot of the elections. I was in the military from ’88 to ’91 and that was a concern for a lot of the people I served with.”
Those countless missing ballots may have changed the course of history, but on January 20th, it is Barack Obama who will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America — and the military will have a new commander in chief.
Stull said, “I’m pleased with the election. Both candidates fought very hard and I think the best candidate won. It will be interesting to see what happens. The American soldiers want to serve the American people and want to do what’s best for them.”
Diplomatically, Woodward proclaimed, “The American people voted for him. He is my commander in chief and I will follow his orders. I trust his judgment.”
But Traficant has concerns, “Statistically speaking, Democrats are not good for veterans and those in the military. Spending goes elsewhere.”
And spending is not the only piece of Obama’s plan that worries Traficant; Iraq is a point of unease. “I think we need to stay our course. If we leave, it will create a power vacuum and Saudi Arabia and Iran will step in and that’s not what we need right now. I think [Obama] is going to succumb to public opinion and pull our troops out prematurely. In five or six years, we’ll be back on a much larger scale,” predicted Traficant.
But Woodward is not concerned: “As the Commander in Chief, Barack Obama will listen to his generals in Iraq and do what’s best. I put full faith in him that with the input of his military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, he will make the best decision for our country,” he justified.
After serving twice in Iraq and eight months in Afghanistan, Stull conveyed, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see abrupt changes. I don’t know if there will be an impact initially. I don’t think leaving Iraq would be the best strategy. It’s difficult to argue improvements aren’t being made. The overall standard of life is improving. Huge strides have been made.”
A profession that will never die
With the economy failing and large corporations crashing, our nation is concerned about unexpected layoffs and unseen bankruptcy, but not morticians. This is one profession that will never go out of business.
Morticians, also known as funeral directors and undertakers, are not viewed as holding the most glamorous job. Nevertheless, they are essential to the American way of life to which we have grown accustomed. Without morticians, who would prepare our loved ones for a proper burial and a final viewing?
This overlooked profession is not a walk in the park. It is very competitive and requires emotional stability, extraordinary intellect and a strong stomach. There is much more to being a mortician than just performing embalming procedures.
“Mortuary school was very challenging and hard” explains Joanne Fabrizio, Fabrizio Funeral Home, “Twenty-eight years ago there weren’t a lot of women.”
Fabrazio says that mortuary school was not your average educational institute. Back when she went, most students were male and the course curriculum was very difficult. It took a lot of time, studying and determination. In the state of Ohio, one can be a mortician (licensed embalmer) and not necessarily be a funeral director or they can choose to be both. Due to the size of Youngstown, most funeral home directors are licensed embalmers, but in larger cities these duties are divided.
In order to become a licensed embalmer, a degree from a mortuary school is required. The curriculum at Cincinnati College of Mortuary, the only mortuary school in Ohio, is both challenging and demanding. In Ohio, one must receive a Bachelors of Mortuary Science in order to be licensed. Educational requirements just scrape the surface of what is really required of a mortician.
Genny Mason, F.D. Mason Funeral Home, says she has been in the funeral business since 1978 and the hardest part isn’t dealing with the dead, it’s dealing with the living.
“You’re the first contact with the family,” explains Mason, “If the family has accepted the death, it makes it much easier on the funeral home and director, we really sympathize with the family.”
Morticians can’t let themselves get too caught up emotionally in their job which at times can be challenging. Becoming emotionally attached with clients can interfere with their overall job performance. Working and being around those during a time of grief requires a strong, but open heart to help make their experience of loss more comforting.
“It’s nice when you can finish with the arrangements and they say you made things so easy. That’s my goal, to make things easier,” says Mason.
Aside from the emotional strain, there is a time requirement that is commonly overlooked. Though it only takes about eight hours to embalm a body, sometimes time is of the essence.
Samuel Clemente, Clemente Funeral Home, has been a mortician/funeral director for the past two decades and says that he has very little time off. People die every day, regardless of whose birthday it is or the holiday. Once someone dies, the body automatically starts a decomposition process that needs to be immediately prolonged by embalmment or freezing temperatures. If the body decomposes too much, the mortician may not be able to make the departed suitable for viewing.
“The longer time from onset of death to embalming in lies the problem,” says Clemente, “Sometimes if they don’t find someone for three days, its almost impossible. The breakdown has started...it’s just too much [to embalm].”
Deciding if a body is suitable for viewing can be pretty complicated. It depends on whether one’s facial structure can be rebuilt, how long they have been deceased and even body mass. According to Clemente, a smaller framed person is easier to embalm than a larger framed person.
With time being such an important part of the embalming process, a mortician needs to always be readily available. Funeral directors usually have staff on call that will pick up those who pass through the night so that the embalming process can start first thing in the morning. According to Clemente, the sooner the body is embalmed, the better.
“When someone dies, our guys go out and pick up the body right away and the embalming process begins immediately,” says Clemente.
Death is an aspect of life that cannot be avoided. Morticians make it possible to view loved ones one last time as they were remembered. Funeral directors try to make the grieving process as easy as they can. Both professions aren’t the most common or sought after jobs, but they’re one of the most demanding jobs one could possibly have and most people fail to realize that.