The greater gifts of a gasoline crisis

This volcanic Ring of Fire explains also why this is also a ring of earthquakes. The red triangles are active volcanoes. See Cougars Corner below.

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, the bad news, of course, is that gasoline prices continue to climb and the federal government hasn’t yet decided whether to release the domestic reserves on hand.  The good news, however, is that Americans are proving again how adaptable they can be in the face of hard times.  

In the last decade, we’ve been weaning ourselves off the critical need for fossils fuels in general.  Our automakers have built more energy efficient vehicles.  They have joined other industries like aerospace and the private manufacturing sector in the accelerated evolution of viable alternatives like hybrids and electrics.  The government has subsidized electric vehicles and equipped our streets, highways, businesses and in one case we know of, a church, with recharging stations. 

As a people ~ as a nation ~ we seem to do some real soul-searching not only here but wherever on the planet, about the victims of drilling and mining operations.  We are taking these brave men and women and their families into our hearts.  We appear to have decided endure is far too high a price for those fuels.  One by one, these operations are closing down.  Wind generation farms are literally sprouting up off both coasts, in our deserts, prairies and plains.  Our buildings are growing pollution eating plants on their roofs.  Entire communities are headed toward an integrated energy ‘grid’ and in a throwback to a century and a half ago, it is now possible for individual homes to become self-sustaining.

Perhaps most importantly of all, we as individual Americans and Canadians and as a society are making healthier lifestyle choices.  We’re walking, cycling and taking buses instead of driving three blocks to the grocery store or across town to work.  We’re purchasing food grown without petrochemicals and more products produced in factories without smoke stacks.  We’re saving more forests ~ the planet’s air filtration system ~ by recycling.  More and more employers are providing a telecommuting option and this not only helps us as workers but it reduces the need for office space and the energy it takes to maintain them. 

We’re finding that the benefits of clean air, water and earth are worth the transitional inconvenience and we’re producing generations which have never smelled smog and to whom environmentalism isn’t a choice but a way of life. 

We’ve decided we love ourselves and one another enough to take responsibility for a healthier planet.  It may be a bit late in coming and we definitely have a ways to go.  But we have not abandoned Mother Earth and she, in return, is healing.  If this keeps up, we may yet see Eden in our own backyards. 


Cyber crime reached an all time high, according to a report recently released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center.  To see which offenses made the top ten and for a demographic breakdown, please go here. 

A 24-year-old Washington State man received five and a half years in prison after being convicted of cyberstalking with sexual motivation in a case involving a 17-year-old girl he met on MySpace.  Also see the Internet Crime Complaint Center if you’re being victimized or know someone who is. 

The good news, not surprisingly, is that if one supplements you diet with fruits, vegetables, grains and other food local to the area, chances are your health is above average and you’ll live longer, as studies of First Nations people have proven.    The downside is that these same nutrition sources are also more prone to environmental contamination precisely because they come from the wild.  This ~ to us at least ~ is but another reason for continuing to protect, restore and recover that which gave the “first North Americans” a foothold on survival here and for several million in Canada, the US and Mexico, still does. 

In a rather strange follow-up to our story last week about a place in Washington State where an oil refinery is putting 200,000 at risk by using a very lethal chemical in its processes, we have learned that another energy company has applied for a permit to build the largest bulk shipment facility on the entire West Coast north and south of the equator.  It is designed to load huge cargo ships with coal not mined in Washington State but brought in by the truckload for export to China.  We learned, and much to our surprise considering we lived there for several years, that Whatcom County mined and sold soft coal in the latter half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th.  Then, as now, handling this form of energy will produce jobs, both in the construction and operation phases.  But because of the increased environmental sensitivity of the times, there’s expected to be a citizen backlash and in this part of the United States, that could be enough to kibosh fossil fuels as an income generator in the entire state. 

Dolphins, allegedly among the most intelligent creatures on the planet, may be even smarter than previously thought, according to an article published recently in The Journal of Comparative Psychology and in a story carried on The Today Show, last weekend.

Well, apparently it’s not quite all over yet for Ian Birk, the former Seattle police officer who shot and killed a Native American woodcarver when the man refused to drop the knife he was carrying.  Birk resigned before he was fired.  The Seattle Police Department censured him and recommended that he not be allowed to carry a badge in the state of Washington and agreed that he used undue force.  The King County prosecutor refused to indict him so now the relatives of the slain man are calling for a grand jury investigation.  Meanwhile, the Seattle Police Department itself continues to be the subject of a federal investigation concerned the apparently institutionalized acceptance of undue force and other questionable law enforcement practices in the field.


 Sometimes, too much kindness can kill, and the interest both Canadians and Americans are paying to the members of a resident orca pod off Vancouver Island may be doing exactly that.  Canadian law requires that whale watchers stay 100 meters/109 yards away.  It’s the exhaust from the boats which aren’t doing that which are making these great creatures ill and at risk of great harm.  More stringent enforcement of the “no approach zone” is anticipated. 

Okay, this one is a little weird, even for my home and native land.  In order to preserve the Oregon spotted frog population in British Columbia, reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Vance Trudeau, who works with fish and frogs at the Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics at the University of Ottawa and who devised a chemical reproductive cocktail to encourage leopard frogs there to mate, contacted the Vancouver aquarium and asked if he could try his amorous out on one of BC’s most threatened amphibian species.  For the results and more information, yep, go here.


Felina:  I am reading about this terrible shaking of the earth in this place of much bamboo, antiquity, venerability and where giant winged lizards and those whose breath ignites air still roamed less than half a century ago.  There is shaking and fire, screaming and expiring, and huge water events which wash away all in their paths.  All life dies a thousand ways but humans most creatively of all.

Sam:    Felina, I’m going to take a shot at this and say we are not talking about what happened the last time those wild donkeys got loose at Disney World Cascadia on Chinese New Year.

Felina:  No.  It did not sound like that human convention we attended in that city nicked named “windy” because its subspecies of human called politician have fallen in love with the sound of their own voices.

Sam:    And if I remember, the waters behaved themselves that day.

Felina:  Quite so.  This is that place called Japan and the terrible devastation of the earthshake and the tsunami waves which followed.  I feel so sorry for them, Samuel.  And so soon after the big earthshake in the land with those strange little birds which would rather run than fly.

Sam:    Ummmm, that’s earthquakes, Felina.

Felina:  Excuse me?

Sam:    The humans call them ‘earth QUAKES’.

Felina:  Why would they call them that when the earth clearly shakes?

Sam:    There is no logical explanation for the irrational.

Felina:  Then I choose not to be stupid.  They are earthshakes.

Sam:    Works for me.  And there were three aftershocks, each around the magnitude of the Nisqually Shake of February 28, 2001.

Felina:  The accounts we read then said it billions of dollars of damage to the world of humans but nothing to the magnitude of this. 

Sam:    Yep.  This latest earthshake was right up there with the one in Chile and a lot bigger than the one which struck that place where there’s a bird that would rather run than fly, which I believe is now called New Zealand.

Felina:  Quite so, New Zealand.  I have read about this ring of fire, where the volcanoes are and it is the same with earthshakes.  It is where the tectonic plates, which is what everything sits on, rub together or buckle.  The earth and water shake. 

Sam:    And depending on where you live, the earth can swallow you, topple the tree you’re living in or drown you right out.

Felina:  And that seems to happen with regularity to them.  And yet they do not seem to really learn.  They continue to build their glass and steel mountains and insist that there is a way to earthshake proof all of their silly little boxes and bridges.  History tells them this is folly.  Common sense tells them it is fallacy.  Even their own scientists tell them they cannot deny the most fundamental forms of nature.  And yet they do not listen and when the planet shrugs hundreds and sometimes thousands of them die.  And they rise up from their own dust to do it all over again.

Sam:    They consider that surviving.

Felina:  I consider it utter and total nonsense.  Death comes to all and I am not disputing that nor railing against it.  Must the end be so tragic?

Sam:    Felina, maybe it’s supposed to happen that way.  One, it keeps them from totally taking over the planet.  And second, it is a de facto affirmation of the right of all creatures who can do so to determine the end a life most of them did not ask for.

Felina:  Like this faith of theirs that compels some of them to dive from a perfectly good airplane in a parachute packed by a stranger and then hoping that if it fails to open, the Creator will catch them.

Sam:    That would seem about the most of it, oh stars and galaxies of my life.  And on that note, then Lass?

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


Sometimes surviving hard times is also about knowing where to look for inspiration.  To me, it comes in many forms, inspiration.  I find it in the superlatives of life, from the exemplary behaviour or performance of someone I know and love to a song that expresses how I feel when emotions ride too wide, deep and full for my own words.  I’ve been a devout fan of Celtic Woman since they debuted on the International Stage over a decade ago.  I also feel passionately about a nation I know is in trouble.  These two fuse together for me in Celtic Woman’s performance of O, America.


Rainy day bus ride, Wallingford neighborhood, Seattle. photo by Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller


Population:                      612.000

Greater Seattle Area      3,707,400

Area:                            84 sq mi/217 sq km

Density:                        7,286 people per sq mi/2,821 per sq km

Annual Rainfall:             36.2 inches/92 cm

Compared to:

  • San Francisco              19.5 in —  50 cm
  • Chicago                        34.5 in —  88 cm
  • Dallas                           37.1 in –  94 cm
  • Washington, DC         39.0 in —  99 cm
  • New York City           40.3 in –102 cm



 Getting a good night’s rest is not only good for your health but another study seems to prove it can extend your life.  Less than six and more than eight can shorten it, however.  For more on this one, please go here.

 I happen to think women are the coolest species on the planet so I’m delighted to pass on this list of foods that are healthy especially for them.


We’ve discussed before the dubious health “advantages” of eating too much red meat.  Several years ago, and at the advice of a friend of mine knowledgeable in this sort of thing, I cut my own intake in half and started feeling better across the board.  Well, apparently the British government agrees.  Scientists in the United King have determined that people who eat a lot of meat like lamb, roast beef and ham have a one-third higher risk of bowel cancer.  Yep, for more on this one, go here.  And our thanks to Thomas and Addie in Oxfordshire, England, for this one. 



 And anyone who further doubts the healing power some animals have won’t have if they’ve visited a hospital just north of Seattle and or gone to a website  where they can see pups in action making patients feel better.  Yep, this is an exportable so for more, please go here.

 When Old McDonald of the nursery rhyme started his farm, I seriously doubt he envisioned how popular such a place would become in a city like Seattle.  I’m reasonably certain he did not imagine first chickens and now goats and ducks joining the menagerie.  To see how this came about and how you might be able to encourage the same where you live, yep, please go here.

 Loyalty is a trait sometimes prized as highly today as it is because it seems in such short supply.  This is a tale of two soldiers who served Queen and Country.  And one another unto the final sacrifice.


Celtic Woman is The Northstar Journal’s favourite musical performance group.  When it is inspiration in a song we seek, they invariably provide it and they look as good as they sound.  The production values of their performances, whether at the Helix in Dublin or on a television stage in Adelaide, are flawless.  Perhaps most endearing for me is that these Irish ladies are totally ingenuous, and totally free of pretense or posturing.  They have a global following and for a sampling of why, please go here. 

(The) Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida is the home of Winter, the rescued dolphin who was fitted with a prosthetic fluke and continues to amaze marine lovers the world over by her recovery.  The CMA is in the marine mammal rescue business for real, both as a public amusement site at which they also take care of a variety of species, and on the web as well.  Their videos and other information also make for a nice “educational” experience to share with others.

 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. 

The Northstar General Store is a truly unique online shopping experience and reflects what you, the readers, have said interests you the most.  Whether it’s a specialty food item for that proverbial someone who has everything else or just to browse with some discretionary capital to spend on a whim, you’ll find everything from quality camping gear to interesting CDs, DVDs and books to totally fun and otherwise useless toys, women and men’s apparel and a wide variety of other items and wares you simply will not find under a single roof anywhere else on the Net.  And by shopping here, you help us pay our bills.  To enter and check it out, please click the picture of the store above. 

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. 


 Anyone who doubts for a moment than many creatures on this planet are just as emotional, intelligent and complex as we are might possibly change their minds after reading and watching this story from YES magazine entitled “The Emotional Lives of Animals.”  For those who need no convincing in these regards, this is a joyous affirmation of “creature-hood” and a totally delightful read. 

Cougars are probably our favorite living creature so when we learned that an eastern branch of the family is apparently extinct, we were not real happy.  But this story has a couple of interesting twists which make it considerably less sad and more the strain of weird we can handle.  Yep, for more, go here

This is definitely shades of an American All Creatures Great and Small.  It’s the journal of a mammal expert in New York State with a blog detailing his efforts to save fishers from extinction.  It is some of the best nature writing we’ve ever encountered and a heartwarming read for sure.

 Recommended Related Links:


Over the last three months, CMA has incurred more than $50,000 in emergency animal care expenses!

 CMA has responded to 59 sea turtle strandings since December 1st.  Some of these turtles were affected by the unexpected cold snap and were suffering from cold stun hypothermia.  Many were emaciated from inability to hunt for food.  During the recent unexpected heat wave an above average number of boaters took to the waters, and as turtles rose to the surface to bask in the sun, many  became victims of boat strikes. 

During this same time period, CMA has rescued 6 American river otters, an unusually high number for the winter months.  Many of these were found as abandoned pups.

 Additionally, CMA has now become home to a rescued baby Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.  On December 11th CMA received the call that a dolphin calf had been found in the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida.  She has been under 24/7 critical care rehabilitation since then.  In February, National Marine Fisheries determined the dolphin would not survive in the wild and would become a permanent resident of CMA.  Today, she is healthy and enjoys playing in her new pool. 

These numerous animal rescues have increased our needs of food, medicine and life support care.  Please help us offset these costs by clicking here to make a donation.

 Our resident and rescued marine animals thank you for your continued support!

 Watch CMA on the NBC Today Show   

 Watch the Baby Dolphin LIVE on her New Webcam!

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

  • 249 Windward Passage
  • Clearwater, FL 33767
  • (727) 441-1790



As much as I love them, I don’t dance with wolves or swim with dolphins.  I doubt this woman on a tour boat in Florida had any intention of getting that close to the latter either.  But one particular dolphin had other ideas and actually leaped into the boat to be with her.  I know this sounds like the dumbest thing in this column in four years but I have proof.  For that proof and more details, please go here.

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.


 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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