From the shores of the Salish Sea

Map pf the Salish Sea

Hi again, from the Bastion on the Puget Sound.  Sometimes, as I join the rest of you in looking out beyond the pale of ~ in my case ~ the shores of the Salish Sea, I get a little overwhelmed.  I can’t help but care about what’s going on in far distant lands, even though I know there’s really very little that I can do about it.  Logic and reason tell me that there are things like that going on much closer to home, things I’m aware of because I live with them, and some of them from which I need to and do escape on occasion.

Things like that we’re moving again into what seems to be a blend of providence and good timing.  It’s going to be a different environment in some ways but an appropriate one.  It’s an opportunity to contribute to a household in a very green neighborhood near the University District, where I lived before for like 15 or 16 years.  It’s not in Seattle proper, but north across that ship canal which connects Lake Washington to the east with Lake Union (our downtown lake) and the Ballard Locks, which access the greater Puget Sound or what many of us are referring to now as the Salish Sea.

As for many of you, it’s been a tough winter and a winter of transition.  We’ve lost some friends and loved ones along the way.  Thanks to Divine Providence and good neighbors, we’re meeting new people along the way.  I like the feeling of the way that it’s coming together.  As devout a believer as I am in the International Community, I am also profoundly aware that it begins building by building, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, community by community, etc.

It’s a natural process that gets interrupted or complicated in ‘good times,’ it seems, rather than bad.  It seems to happen when we don’t know who we’re working with, when we don’t know who are neighbours are, or when we’ve lost touch with our families.  We become so consumed with the material things in life or those tangible intangibles like power that we lose touch with our own humanity.  It seems to me this has happened a lot down through history.

There’s something about this winter that feels different.  Not only are we slowly emerging from economic hard times and still going through them in so many places yet, now we’re forced by the weather to gather in smaller crowds, like our street or our building.  It’s not ~ I grant you ~ the best way to restore one’s humanity and interest in other human beings.  But it does invariably work.  And that’s how we’ll get through all this because that’s how we have before and how we are now.

 What is going to be of far greater significance to me than our recovery is what we’ve learned from this and whether we feel we’ve gone down this particular road enough?  I sure hope so.  There are lots of other routes to happiness considerably more scenic than this.


 We note with pleasure and some relief that Russia and America have activated a strategic arms control treaty.  It’s called New Start.  It weirded me out a little to realize that after this present reduction, there will still be 1,550 strategic warheads and 800 launchers and heavy bombers on each side yet deployed.  Apparently we’ve both still got the capacity to blow one another to Kingdom Come several times over so it’s probably a real good idea we be allies and friends, especially considering the number of emerging nuclear-capable nations who don’t really like either the bear or the eagle very much.  And I’m going to sleep a lot better knowing there’s only three of those nuclear devices aimed at Seattle, rather than the seven or eight there apparently was before.  But then again, when one will do it, right.  So yep, for more on this one, please go here.

If you’re looking to move to Seattle or our suburbs and buy a home, now would be a good time.  Median home prices have hit a six-year low.  Single-family homes are going for around $356,000.

We applaud Idaho for deciding to joint the alternative energy movement, big time.  The Gem State has a third of America’s geothermal energy.  Their legislature, with the endorsement of their governor, is modifying the laws and restrictions which have prevented this from happening in the past.  We also see this as something other communities can do so yep, for more, please go here.

Young Americans are much more a reflection of the “melting pot” heritage of this country than generations past, according to data released from the most recent federal censure report.  A demographer at the Brookings Institution said “This is a huge demographic transformation.  A cultural generation gap is emerging.”  Among other things, what it means is that Americans 18 and under are not nearly as white as they once were.

In a trend which has educators and the electronic publishing industry both standing and cheering, ebook sales, particularly among children, are booming and in some cases have already seen as much as a 14 percent increase already this year.  One young reader was quoted as saying that she had gone without television for almost two weeks, preferring instead, the joy of reading.  I loved this so for more, please go here.

Felina: It is a beautiful night, is it not, Samuel?  So many stars across the snowfields and so arctic and pristine the land.  It is hard to imagine so much of the rest of the planet in such throes of vicious weather.

Sam:    Hi, Sweetheart.  I wondered what you were doing out here for so long.  It’s getting a little chilly back in the cave.  But now I know and it’s cool. 

Felina:  Both puns intended, eh, oh sun and moon and stars of my life?

Sam:    Absolutely, oh endless galaxies of mine.

Felina:  Samuel, I feel guilty that life with us is as good as it is when so many of our human neighbours are having it so tough.

Sam:    Even understanding why doesn’t make it any easier, does it, Felina?

Felina:  No, Samuel Alexander, it does not.

Sam:    And sometimes, it isn’t easy to put into words, is it, Lass?  Even when it’s important to try.

Felina:  Quite so but I shall try.

Sam:    I’m listening, Felina.  And I have a strange feeling I’m not alone.

Felina:  It is part the anguish a mother feels for reckless children.  They break her heart but she cannot stop loving them.

Sam:    Amen, mate mine.

Felina:  It is also a wish awaiting fulfillment.  They are not alone on this planet, not without those with whom they can share.  It is waiting for the day when talking to us is as natural as communicating with one another that this is about for me as well, Samuel.

Sam:    And there’s lots of evidence out there now that this is indeed starting to happen.  But then you know that too.

Felina:  I do indeed and each time I see them reach out to preserve, protect and attempt to understand, I am hopeful.  And yes, to a degree, it mitigates the frustration and the fear that too many of us will perish before humans feel that which bonds us all.

Sam:    This meteorological nightmare they’re going through now just might be helping that, Felina.  Talking “to” one another rather than “at” each other seems to be a survival tool they’ve apparently lost and need to recover.  Again and with all due respect, we’re seeing progress in these regards, as well.

Felina:  Quite so and I know and appreciate this.

Sam:    Then you’re not out here just reflecting on a quiet night, are you, Lass?

Felina:  I am also praying for them, yes.

Sam:    And I’m assuming you wouldn’t mind a little company?

Felina:  I would not mind at all, oh sun and moon and stars of my life.

Sam:    On that note, then, endless galaxies of mine?

Felina:  And on that note, gentle readers, until next time, may the Creator bless and keep you.


Here’s a unique program that is showing young American combat veterans what it’s like to not only survive in Afghanistan or Iraq but during important missions right here at home, like organic farming, which by its very nature tends to be more labor intensive, require much more planning and demands that the farmer be flexible and adaptable under stress.  A veteran thought this one up and implemented it on his own farm.  In our opinion, it’s the most innovative approach to truly “debriefing” America’s combat veterans we’ve seen in three decades.  We’re also betting the model is transferable to other professions.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.


I just learned that white tea, which I enjoy anyway, is also apparently good at dealing with wrinkles.  I enjoyed this one so please go here.

Here’s yet another reason for especially Baby Boomers to engage in at least moderate exercise weekly.  It increases the brain size and slows its aging.  We’re talking about three 40-minute workouts a week for the 55 – 80 set.  Yep, for more, please go here.

ON THE CANCER FRONT:  In dedication to: Shannon Patricia Goddard 1962 – 2001

One of the reasons I’m such a strong supporter of technology is that it is often used to mitigate suffering, affect a cure, save lives.  Robotic surgery for bladder cancer is doing exactly that.

Early screening for breast cancer can save lives but it is also a procedure with which many women are uncomfortable.  For a frank discussion of the pros and cons of the whole mammogram issue ~ and I would also recommend that men read this as well ~ please go here.


We’re real glad to see that a retired community in Oregon saw their electric bill drop by as much as $15,500 a year.  The facility only cost $500,000 to build.  There are 320 residential units spread over 12 acres so it’s not taking long to pay this off and start realizing hard money savings.

Although most of the liability was acquired when it bought Countrywide Financial in 2008, Bank of America has created a “troubled loan” department to handle about 1.3-million risky mortgages.  The bank’s 12-million healthy mortgages will remain with its home loan division, while the troubled loans in the Legacy Asset Servicing unit are gradually wound down.

With a characteristic concern for the total environment that is rapidly becoming a hallmark of the Pacific Northwest, several Western Washington First Nation tribes, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are breaching tidal dikes in the area to restore some 360 acres/1.46 sq. km. of natural marshland.  It’s an approach we feel can be applied elsewhere so yep, for more on this one, please go here.

In another act of potential citizen empowerment, the American government is now posting the Wanted Posters of some 170 health care fraud fugitives and it looks like this one’s well funded and on-going.  For more on how you can help track these people down, please go here.

And we are delighted to learn that apparently, there’s an actual whale population residing just beyond New York Harbor.  Marine experts attribute this to the environmental cleanup, preservation and protection measures taken by the City of New York and a long list of other local, state and national agencies.  In my mind, it’s another reason to admire New Yorkers more than I already do, which is considerably.


Finding Rootedness is perhaps the most empowering blog we have yet come across for those of us who value positive and empowering alternatives.  This one is for the window pushers among us.  It offers not only solid alternatives to the chaos but news of where these options are being successfully implemented.

Irish Newsletter is an outstanding pocket source of Irish life, politics and times.  Particularly well written are their news snaps (shorts) which ~ according to friends of mine in Erin ~ literally tell it like it is.  While the Republic of Ireland’s population is only about 4.5-million, there are an estimated 80 million people of Irish descent worldwide and email version of this reached 50,000 of them.

Rusty Miller – Writer/Editor For Hire is my professional home page.  Contracts I receive through this site help finance The Northstar Journal.

Sightline Daily is the best Pacific Northwest source of environmentally friendly news we’ve encountered yet.  They draw from newspapers and National Public Radio sources in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State.

The Northstar Gallery features photography of Seattle available as postcards, computer wallpaper and workspace art.

Words Matter: How Media Can Build Civility or Destroy It is a “Should Read” for any of us involved in the communication of the written word.

Wrath of the Testament, an exciting seagoing saga of war and rebellion, is now available for $3.99 at

Yes magazine is the online Life and Look of the Internet combined and their present series “What Happy Families Know is both insightful and inspirational.


Foggy Seattle Skyline Looking North - Photo by Merritt Scott Miller

 What’s Going On Here?

 Whether you live here or plan to visit ~ and whatever it is you enjoy doing at home or as a tourist ~ you’ll find it listed here at



Seattle Rainfall in Comparison To Other US Cities

Seattle Geography & Climate

For more information about Seattle



The Northstar Gallery, Photos of Seattle

For live cameras on Seattle, the Puget Sound and Washington State

Mount Rainier slide show

Eat healthy while you’re here – Seattle PCC Co-Op

Take some fresh produce back to your hotel – Seattle Farmers Markets




This first one comes from our friends in Florida at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is also home to Winter, the dolphin with the prosethetic flipper.  They’ve rescued and adopted a severely traumatized junevile green sea turtle and what they’re doing to restore this creature to good health is a remarkable read.


Hopes for the first the first verified wolverine den in the North Cascades of Washington state are riding now on a young female wolverine who was humanely trapped by wildlife officials, who measured her and fitted her with a radio collar.  They’re hoping she is pregnant and will determine that by seeing if she seeks a den or by recapturing her and measuring her if she does not.  For more about these fascinating and important animals, please go here.


Recommended Related Links:

National Wildlife Magazine

Go Northwest:  Northwest Wildlife Websites

BBC’s wildlife finder

National Geographic Daily News – Animals

Retrieverman’s Weblog:  Engaging articles on domestic & wildlife in the American South – More than most of us ever wanted to know about these critters



 Since I’ve tried, personally and in chatrooms, to explain that the term “global warming” is ~ on the surface ~ a bit of a misnomer.  I mean, how can the planet be warming up when the most of North America, a great deal of South America, Ireland, the UK and a fair portion of Europe and a significant share of the subcontinent of Australia is getting slammed by such brutally cold weather?  At the very least, it’s just not logical.  I hope this article explains it better than I can.  It’s from Grist magazine and it’s entitled “Is it hot in here? Or is the climate changing?”


Well, that’s it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next,

 And if you’re in a shopping mood and into some interesting choices?  We have a “reader stocked” General Store that you might want to check out.  We’ve stocked a bit of everything from camping gear and cookware, specialty food items, books, music, films and fun/interesting/weird things that just somehow found their way onto the shelves at night when we were asleep.

Come On In and Remember, It Costs Nothing to Browse

  If you would like to sell something with us or know someone who does, email us at and we’ll see what we can do.  See you next time.  Be well.



About minstrel312

MERRITT SCOTT MILLER Bio Wrath of the Testament Author and Northstar Journal editor Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller is a former newspaper reporter who has published extensively in the Pacific Northwest and several times nationally. A U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, he began his career in the alternative media of the mid-Seventies. His own Sacramento-based monthly ~ Rapline ~ drew praise from Sacramento BEE metro columnist Herb Michelson in a column published that that newspaper; and from Berkeley Film Quarterly editor and author of the bestsellers Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging, Ernest Callenbach. A Northern California native with roots in British Columbia, Mr. Miller has written for several Northwest community newspapers, United Press International, the daily Portland Oregonian and for such Seattle publications as the Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Press and the University Herald. As an investigative reporter for the McMinnville, Oregon News-Register ~ and in conjunction with CBS News in New York, Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona ~ Mr. Miller localized a story of alleged Contra gun-running by an international air freight company headquartered in that Willamette Valley community. During the 1987 Angel Complex Fire in southern Oregon, Mr. Miller worked as the lead dispatcher for the U.S. Forest Service and covered the disaster for National Public Radio and as a special writer for the Portland, Oregonian. His 1988 series on child abuse for a rural weekly earned him praise from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. In his career as a journalist, Mr. Miller has interviewed a Nobel peace laureate; an internationally renowned abstract artist; a popular folksinger and various Pacific Northwest elected officials, include a state treasurer and governor. An accomplished travel book writer, Mr. Miller has penned demographic and feature copy for the “Best Choices” series on Eastern Washington, British Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina and Atlanta. As either a contract or staff publicist, he has served a host of clients including the Olympia Music Festival, Umpqua Valley Community Hospital, the City of Canyonville, the Tiller Ranger District, The English School, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, Yamhill County Assessor Kim Worrell and Workers of Oregon Development. His freelance publications include: United Press International, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Portland Oregonian, Forest World, American Trucking, Trucks, Oregon Adventures, Oregon Education, Old Oregon, The Entertainer, the Seattle Press, the San Juan Island Sounder, Northwest Passage, Northwest Connection, Seattle Source, Seattle Forum, the University of Colorado’s Writers Forum, Clouds, The long Beach Literary Journal and the Pacific Media Group. He has worked since the age of 13 and has been a hop harvester, professional musician, civil servant, forester, convenience market clerk, lumber mill worker, temporary word processor, technical writer and editor. He has also led a social services research and development team and has six years of radio and telephone communications experience. His interests include astronomy, aviation, camping, Canada, communications, conversation, cooking, dancing, economic development, education, environmentalism, exploration, film/DVDs, fine dining, government, green technology, health. History, human rights, International community, Internet media, law, literature, marine engineering & design, medicine, music, nature, networking, outdoors, pets, photography, romance, science, sexuality, technology, travel, water, wildlife His honors and awards include: Letter of Appreciation - Amnesty International; US Senator Patti Murray Letter of Appreciation for The Northstar Journal Blog; Editors Choice, International Library of Poetry; Congressman Edward Murray Letter of Appreciation; Congressman Frank Chopp Letter of Appreciation; Hersch Best Read on the Net Award for The Northstar Journal; President Bill Clinton Letter of Appreciation; Workers Of Oregon Development Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Police Department Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Mayor’s Office Certificate of Appreciation; California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird Letter of Appreciation; Northwest Magazine Editorial Board Letter of Appreciation for Rain; Editorial Award, Society of Professional Journalists; Sacramento Bee Metro Column; Honor Roll: California State University Long Beach; Deans List: Long Beach City; Mr. Miller currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to edit and publish The Northstar Journal. He is working on two novels concurrently and a sequel to Wrath of the Testament.
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