•  Vol. IV  No. 18
  • Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011
  • Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott (Mishka) Miller, Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  As I write this, it is Wednesday, April 20, the 12th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre.  This publication was a monthly then, when its Canadian editor was still alive, and Shannon Patricia Goddard helped shape our in-depth coverage of that tragedy.  She had three kids of her own and realized that what happened to a high school inColorado could happen even in a small town onVancouver Island,British Columbia.  Shannon, or “Short Stuff,” as we called her, died of cancer in 2001 but her memory and her example have continued to guide this publication to this day. 

She would be gratified to know that some good has come of this tragedy in the form of Rachel’s Challenge.  Rachel Scott, the first victim, was an exceptional 17-year-old in all regards.  A sensitive and compassionate young woman, she was proactive in her caring.  She interceded to stop bullying.  She left her friends to sit at a table in the cafeteria to take lunch with a new student.  She kept an account of her life as a teenager that filled six diaries.  She wrote about what it was like to be young, optimistic, devoted to her family, proud of her school, her community, her state and her nation.  She also talked several of her friends out of killing themselves. 

Her father founded Rachel’s Challenge and estimates he has spoken to several million students since his daughter’s death.  His presentations, judging by the testimonials from kids, parents and school administrators, have saved countless lives and have instilled and inspired a greater awareness of the issues and concerns facing America’s great natural resource, its youth.  He’s been inWashington state this past week perpetuating her legacy and it has probably been one of the best things to happen to public education here in years. 

For the full story, please go here.  To learn how the schools in your community can take up Rachel’s Challenge, please go here. 


Apparently NASA has decided that manned spacecraft are still a more viable way to go than the drone or robotic equivalent.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded The Boeing Aircraft Company $90-million to develop its Orion spacecraft prototype and is contributing financing for three other similar successes to the space shuttle.  For more and an excellent video depicting this next generation of manned extraterrestrial vehicles, please go here. 

Our thanks to the Washington State legislature and Governor Christine (Gov. Chris) Gregoire for enacting a bill which will now permit private employers to give American military veterans, their widows and widowers a preference in hiring.  Public employers already have that mandate.  I especially appreciate this because I served inVietnam and back then, a convicted felon had a better chance of getting a decent job than a veteran did.  So way to go,Olympia and Governor Chris. 

Well, the news associated with the worst petrochemical disaster in history just keeps getting better and better.  A year after the Deepwater Horizon debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, a government list acquired by the Associated Press, “in addition to 27,000 oil and gas wells that were sealed with cement and abandoned without any regular monitoring, another 3,200 old wells have quietly been left unused without any cement plugging to help prevent leaks.”  For more grisly details, eat lunch first and then go here

And speaking of Deepwater Horizon, BP has agreed to pay $1 billion for initial restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.  The international petrochemical company signed a voluntary agreement with the federal government and five states Thursday.  BP also turned around and sued the owners of the Deepwater Horizon well for $40-billion, contending Transocean was operating the well in an “unseaworthy” fashion.  For more on THIS aspect of perhaps the greatest dog and pony show of its kind in this century so far, please go here

The GOOD news is that Nissan has resumed taking orders for its electric sedan, the Leaf.  The Japanese motorcar company stopped accepting them in September after discovering a software problem which could prevent the vehicle from starting.  It has since notified all 5,300 owners that it will fix the glitch at their homes and workplaces, as well as the dealerships where these cars are sold.  It also plans to accelerate production to decrease the waiting time from seven months to three or four.  For more on this one, please go here

Most Americans no longer believe that neither Congress nor the White House is really in touch with the best interests of the constituency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.  Apparently this desire to dominate Capitol Hill rather than work together for the general welfare of the people is wearing a little thin.  Poll results seem to indicate that Americans are equally disgusted with both the pachyderm and the jackass so it’s going to be real interesting to see what happens in the elections next year.  We anticipate major gains by the Tea Party and perhaps a critical reevaluation of a two-party system which seems equally incapable of governing either judiciously or with the common sense God gave the north end of a southbound Canada goose. 


Canada’s first national white paper on telecommuting yielded some impressive results.  Working at home just two days a week would be the equivalent of taking 385,000 motor vehicles off the roads and save employers about $10,000 per employee annually.  According to the Telecommute Research Network, the average Canadian’s commute is 21 percent longer than their American counterpart and 16 percent longer than those in theUnited Kingdom. 

In a dramatic demonstration of the intrinsic value of “hands across the sea” international economic cooperation, Bombardier, Canada’s majour manufacturer of aircraft and trains, will likely net nearly $4-billion US as part of an order Germany’s state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn placed order with Siemens AG for up to 300 trains.  This cannot help but enhance a national economy which has fared much better during the Great Recession than most other nations, including the U.S.  Yes, for more on this one, please go here. 


Fawn Lee, her parents and her 11 siblings fled Vietnamabout a year after the fall of Saigonand made a home for themselves in California.  Fawn was determined to give her own children the peace, the safety and the happiness she could not know when she left her own country at the age of four.  She is dying now of lung cancer and has, at best, two years left.  Most of those dreams will probably not be realized.  But that did not stop this remarkable young woman from bequeathing a legacy far more important than anything material she could give them.  For more on this one, please go here

In an age when innovation seems to be the primary purview of large corporations and well-funded research labs, the spirit of Yankee ingenuity remains alive and well.  A father and son team will soon be leaving from Portland, Oregonto drive across the American continent in a vehicle powered by the electricity it takes to run a single 100-watt light bulb for a day.  Yep, I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I’m certain you will too so yep, for more, please go here

At a time when it seems so imperative and yet so difficult to clean up America and insure that its nations school are environmentally safe, one woman has a dream.  Despite the skepticism involved in this monumental task, Rachel Gutter is succeeding.  To meet the woman greening the Eagle’s educational institutions, please go here.

Sam:    Hi, Lass.  What are you doing up so early?  It’s not quite dawn yet.  And why the tears?

Felina:  Columbine, Samuel.

Sam:    Ah, yes.  That would explain it.

Felina:  How can they do such horrible things to one another?  The adults of their species, perhaps I could understand if I lived forever.  But their young turning on one another?

Sam:    Felina, it was a tragedy beyond comprehension and I so sincerely and so profoundly wish I had an answer that came remotely close to touching that magnificent heart of the lioness I fell so devoutly in love with the first time these admittedly cynical eyes ever beheld you that pristine spring Canadian Rocky Mountain spring morning I first beheld you.

Felina:  I feel so utterly lost at times like this.  I have studied this species of naked ape for what seems like an eon and an age.  They are so unlike any creature which has ever walked Gaia’s once green gardens.  I have seen them make such incredible sacrifices to protect their young.  I have seen them exercise compassion which rightfully belongs to the galaxies and worlds beyond.  And I have seen them buy, butcher, starve and burn alive infants whose only crime was to be born a darker shade of pale or to parents who worshipped the same Creator with different words and different rituals.

Sam:    Yet this same species, with all its bloody contradictions somehow manages to endure.  And as much as this is tearing you apart, you continue to love them and get your heart broken?

Felina:  Perhaps it is I who is the insane one.

Sam:    For what, Felina?

Felina:  For loving them beyond all reason.

Sam:    For loving them more than they appear to love themselves>

Felina:  Yes.

Sam:    And maybe the Creator made a mistake by creating them in the first place.

Felina:  The Creator does not make mistakes, Samuel.

Sam:    Neither do you, Felina.  Look at what the father of the first of the Columbine fallen is doing to insure that his daughter did not die in vain.

Felina:  Rachel Scott was an extraordinary human being.

Sam:    Her father’s not exactly lacking in courage, integrity, compassion or love either, Lass.

Felina:  Quite so, Samuel.

Sam:    Are we prepared to accept Rachel’s Challenge, as well, my love?

Felina:  We are, indeed.

Sam:    Then on that note, Lass?

Felina:  Gentle readers, we dedicate this now to those who died at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999:  Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Daniel Rohrbough, William “Dave” Sanders, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Schoels, Lauren Townsend and Kyle Velasquez.  It is up to each and all of you to insure that they are not forgotten and that this is never ever permitted to happen again.  Until next time, may the Creator bless and keep you. 


Seven might just be a lucky number in surviving hard times.  That’s how many practical tips there are in this article and my house has tried, successfully, most of them.


Despite rainfall unseasonable even for “soggy Seattle,” summer decided to poke its head through the clouds early and what a grand and glorious day it was. This is looking east toward the snowy Cascades and the great green roofed building in the background is part of the University of Washington campus. Photo by Merritt Scott Miller


  • Population:                   612.000
  • GreaterSeattleArea      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
  •  More Seattle Facts & Figures
  • Upcoming Events


As all of us grow older and face the gradual diminishment of our mental faculties, we run the risk of the various afflictions categorized under the broader heading of “dementia”.  This does not mean that all of us will necessarily contract one of them but it is very likely that our lives will be impacted by it because we know someone who has.  To learn more about symptoms, prevention and treatment options, please go here

Have you ever experienced even a momentary loss of memory?  We’re talking about something as simple as forgetting where you put the car keys or trouble remembering the name of a favorite actor, author or television star.  It can be a little unnerving, I know.  For seven measures we can take to mitigate memory loss, please go here


If you have chronic halitosis, bleeding gums, cavities or systemic oral health problems, there’s a good chance you’re also at high risk for cancer.  Conversely, if you have good dental hygiene habits, your risk of contracting this killer is probably substantially lower.  To see how this relationship works, please go here. 



 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 inFlorida 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 inErin ~ literally tell it like it is.  While theRepublic ofIreland’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 bestPacific 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 Washngton State. 

The Northstar Gallery features photography ofSeattle 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 amazon.com. 

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. 


 Like those of you who read this feature on a regular basis, I am a devout lover of all creatures “great and small,” for they represent to me the very web of life on this planet.  I have, therefore, a profound admiration for those whose lives are in part dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting particularly endangered species.  Marine photographer Bryant Austin represents the best of this “breed” of human beings.  To understand why I feel this way, please go here. 

Did you folks know penguins are ticklish?  I didn’t.  But I do now, after seeing this little guy in action. 

Being from the Pacific Northwest and never having traveled any further east than Wyoming and Montana, I have not associated eagles with the Midwest.  However, thanks to a reader from that region and the link she sent to be shared with all of you, I do now.  To see a farming communiyt eagle family in real time, please go here.  Note:  We ran this last week but inadventently provided the wrong link.  Our apologies for the mix-up. 

Recommended Related Links:


You guys have heard the one about the goat that walked into the music store, right?  Yep, for more, go here

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

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 minstrel312@aol.com and we’ll see what we can do.  See you next time.  Be well. 

Mishka, for Lacey


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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