There is No Escape by Ron Steinman

There is No Escape by Ron Steinman

I have long believed that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) can affect anyone who serves in war. This goes especially for reporters, and here I include anyone who covers war— camera operators, sound persons, and field producers, because they are often victims of the unseen consequences of what they encounter. There is no profit for me to name those professional journalists I know who suffer from PTSD in various degrees. I know who they are, as do they. Few if any of them own up to the problems they carry home once they leave a war zone. Journalists by nature are reticent when it comes to telling the outside world what they went through as non-combatants covering combat or its results. Everyone is equal on a battlefield whatever the role they play. Recently I chanced on a story by Dean Yates of Reuters, an Australian who covered Iraq extensively and suffered the seemingly never-ending consequences of PTSD. His story is moving and powerful, a stark reminder that we journalists are not immune to the after effects that come from covering the horrors of war. But most journalists refuse to acknowledge or accept they could be victims of PTSD. It goes against being macho for those who cover conflicts — a misused and weakened term, by the way, a poor euphemism for people who shoot at each other to kill and maim. I have no answer what for me is accepting the obvious, that when you are in war even as a non-combatant, a civilian, the effect on you can be, and often is, deep, disturbing and long lasting.

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We Are Knocked Out by Ron Steinman and Eileen Douglas

We Are Knocked Out by Ron Steinman and Eileen Douglas

With the holiday season upon us we have more interesting and intriguing news about our film, “The Dance Goodbye,” starring Merrill Ashley. Libraries across the world have been picking the film for their collections about dance and ballerinas. We are now in over 200 libraries, as diverse as the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the National Library Board in Singapore, libraries in Montreal, Prince Albert, Canada, Edmonton, the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Major universities like Columbia, Cornell, Ohio State, Stanford and MIT to the Citrus Community College District in Glendora, California, Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Maine. Everything from the New York Public Library to the Timberland Regional Library in Turnwater, Washington, and many more. If anyone wants to buy it, it is still available on Amazon. Ron Steinman and Eileen Douglas.

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Picture Imperfect by Ron Steinman

Picture Imperfect by Ron Steinman
Despite the expense of boring you, dear reader, or even reminding you about the horror of the wars in Iraq and Syria and especially the fight for Mosul and Aleppo my reposting this piece is because I saw a powerful story on the PBS News Hour, December 1 by Jane Ferguson about the battle for Mosul. Read it and weep. I will allow you that right. But whatever you do, do not ignore the reality of unbridled war.

The terrible civil war continues unabated in Syria. In case you forgot, which you might have already done, the boy in the picture is five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. We watched him as he sat dazed and wounded in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo after yet another bombing of his neighborhood. He lifts his hand to his face, tries to wipe the blood away, something he cannot, and then he stares emptily into space. The photo went viral, became a major meme of the war, a sensational symbol of all that is evil and hopeless in Syria. Some thought the photo would have an effect on the war and its conduct. After all, Omran is a young boy in distress. He should not be wiping blood from his face. He should be playing in the street without fear. Because of social media, the photo has probably been viewed millions of times. Since it first appeared, there have been other horrible images of the war. But what happened to Omran’s photo? However many times we pull it up it is still as wrenching as when we first saw it. Despite its power, it has had absolutely no effect on the state of the war. It is easy to consider it yesterday’s news, as I am sure many do. That it had no effect on the war says something damning about the Internet. Omran’s photo had a very short life. Instead of a shot heard round the world, the picture became a shot too soon forgotten. Omran disappeared in the morass of social media where everything is exposed and nothing lives for very long. Social media is a world of plenty. Omran had no longevity because everything on the Internet has a very short life. In the end Omran was just another photo on a typically nasty day in an increasingly ugly war. More is the pity.
Photo by Mahmoud Raslan/Aleppo Media Center

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Picture Imperfect

Picture Imperfect by Ron Steinman

The terrible civil war continues unabated in Syria. In case you forgot, which you might have already done, the boy in the picture is five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. We watched him as he sat dazed and wounded in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo after yet another bombing of his neighborhood. He lifts his hand to his face, tries to wipe the blood away, something he cannot, and then he stares emptily into space. The photo went viral, became a major meme of the war, a sensational symbol of all that is evil and hopeless in Syria. Some thought the photo would have an effect on the war and its conduct. After all, Omran is a young boy in distress. He should not be wiping blood from his face. He should be playing in the street without fear. Because of social media, the photo has probably been viewed millions of times. Since it first appeared, there have been other horrible images of the war. But what happened to Omran’s photo? However many times we pull it up it is still as wrenching as when we first saw it. Despite its power, it has had absolutely no effect on the state of the war. It is easy to consider it yesterday’s news, as I am sure many do. That it had no effect on the war says something damning about the Internet. Omran’s photo had a very short life. Instead of a shot heard round the world, the picture became a shot too soon forgotten. Omran disappeared in the morass of social media where everything is exposed and nothing lives for very long. Social media is a world of plenty. Omran had no longevity because everything on the Internet has a very short life. In the end Omran was just another photo on a typically nasty day in an increasingly ugly war. More is the pity.

Photo by Mahmoud Raslan/Aleppo Media Center

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Dog Story 3: Lacey’s Eating Habits by Ron Steinman

Dog Story 3: Lacey’s Eating Habits by Ron Steinman

(On my Notebooks blog, I posted “A Dog Story,” 8/11/16 and “Dog Story 2, Lacey’s Routine,” 9/19/16. These are part of a work in progress called, “The Zen According to Lacey,” with photos of Lacey. Part 4, Lacey’s Last Years is coming soon.)

When Lacey, my pure bred Shih Tzu, was 11 she had a serious stomach problem that put her into an animal hospital for an overnight stay. The vet inserted an IV to feed her and to keep her alive. She was in bad shape. I thought I might lose her but, stronger than I thought, she came through. Her vet recommended home cooked chicken and vegetable based on the simplest food that one could find on the healthy diet menu at some Chinese restaurants. Rather than ordering in every night, I started to cook for her and did so for most of the rest of her life.
Her menu included slow baked chicken breasts that I marinated for twenty minutes with a touch of sea salt. Then I placed them in a tabletop oven, usually for twenty minutes until well cooked, but not dried out. Into the same oven I put a sweet potato or yam and usually baked either for about forty-five minutes. Sometimes I baked an Idaho potato, usually for one hour. I boiled broccoli stalks but never the florets. For some reason she did not like eating florets. She never explained why. I boiled fresh carrots cut into small pieces. When everything was ready, I cut the meat, the sweet potato and the Idaho potato. I served her both the Idaho and the sweet potato or yam without the skin, always in chunks but never mashed. I cooked her food using no spice or condiments, placing it on a large dinner plate, brought it to her spot in the living room where she attacked her food with gusto. Friends of mine contended she ate better than I did. There was no argument from me. But she was Lacey and deserved every bit of warm attention I could give her.
In the morning after her walk, I gave her three noshes that I cut into small pieces. I put them on the floor. She enjoyed a snack called Snausages. She had a small mouth. I broke those in half. She rarely ate from a plate or bowl. She usually ate those immediately. Then I took a handful of her dry health food that she sometime ate, or whatever else she enjoyed, and put it in a small pile near her water. She usually went right to it and chomped away, slowly and deliberately. Sometimes she let me know she wanted more food by coming to me and staring. She did that as if she were sending me a signal by mental telepathy, something I believe dogs do all the time.

I did feed her table scraps. Doing that seemed to make her want to eat her own food. I did not give her sweets, but if I had cereal, I gave her small desert plate with some and a little milk. The vet said that was good for her. She loved tomatoes, so I gave her a few slices cut into small pieces when I ate them. She loved all kinds of cheese. If I had a piece, I gave her a few tastes as well. That always satisfied Lacey and she would then sleep through the night.

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Filed under Chicken, Dog Story, Dogs, Memoir, Memoir and Journals, Shih Tzu

Hail, Hail Mobile by Ron Steinman

Hail, Hail Mobile by Ron Steinman

Word on the digital street is that AT&T, if its takeover of Time Warner goes through, wants all, not some, yes, all video to exist only on mobile devices. If true and that comes to pass, to help the visually challenged, which is most of us who wear glasses, AT&T should provide all mobile users with magnifying glasses to help them see clearly what is on the tiny screen. I do not look forward to that happening. I grew up when TV screens were no bigger than some smart phones currently in use. Seeing movies in a theater on a big screen was a delight. When movies grew in size and became huge, the experience was even better. I could see faces, expressions, depths, passion, joy, sadness, and vistas that sang with beauty. Today, I refuse to watch any video on a smart phone screen. To view a movie or TV show that way is unappealing. Watching a sporting event on the small screen is even worse, especially if the event is a football or basketball game. Following a baseball pitch on the small screen is nearly impossible. It is horrible to watch and an insult to the sport. Advertisements are worse, because they are barely readable. Those created for mobile are a waste of time but I trust the ad business will figure out how to best get your attention on the tiniest of screens. But none of this matters, not really. Just as well that AT&T does not include me in its demographics. It is not where I want to be anyway.

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Filed under Cable, Internet, Journalism, Movies, New Media, New Media, Journalism, Film, TV, Newspapers, Photos, Smart Phone, The Press, TV, video

Still Free Books by Ron Steinman

Because of the continuous demand, I will keep “Women in Vietnam,” “Death in Saigon,” “Notebooks” and “Survival Manual: A Memoir of Near Death, Illness and Survival,” all Nook Books through Barnes&Noble, free through November 18, at which time they will go back on sale probably for $2.99 or even less. Thanks for reading. Ron Steinman

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Filed under Journalism, Literature, Memoir, Memoir and Journals, Saigon, Vietnam, Vietnam War