• Vol. IV  No. 19
  • Sunday, May 1, 2011
  • Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott (Mishka) Miller, Editor

Looking northward just over Highway 67 North from South Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Noble.

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.   Our hearts certainly go out to Dixie and the border states in the wake of the worst tornados and flooding to hit this region since 1925.  At last count, the death toll was nearly 400.  Thousands have been injured.  At least a million are homeless.  Property damage is estimated at several billion dollars and there are communities such asTuscaloosa,Alabama which closely resemble the lifeless rubble of an atomic Ground Zero.  

Like millions here in the United Statesand around the world, I watched the coverage with awe and an aching heart.  I have close friends in the South.  I am a student of United States history and particularly that of those states below the Mason Dixon Line.  I have written travel books aboutSouth Carolina, Atlanta and Northern Georgia and the Commonwealth ofVirginia.  Several of my short stories have been published in the former Confederacy.  For many years, one of my best friends, Russell Anderson League, Jr., and his family lived in Huntsville, Alabama.  I have friends inAtlanta,Augusta and Marietta, Georgia. 

So while I am not “Southern,” I have more than a littleDixiein my soul.  I know that in times past, particularly with regards to the region’s treatment of black Americans and its stereotypical reputation for being a land of peanut farmers, rednecks andGeorgiacrackers, the region has not been cast in a favorable light by the media.  There’s nothing I can do about a consumer-driven business which makes its money by giving its readership what they apparently want.  I do the same with The Northstar Journal.  The only difference is that you folks don’t pander to the lowest common denominator. 

So while I am not a cracker, a redneck or a goober pea farmer, I can tell you something about the South and about Southerners.  They are tough.  One has only to consider the devastation wreaked on that region during the American Civil War and how the South recovered from it to understand that.  One has only to consider the state ofTexas, which was settled by people fromDixie, to understand that.  One has only to stroll among the fields of crosses at theNationalCemeteryinArlingtonVirginia, to understand that. 

There can be no overestimating the tragedy of this monumental meteorological event and there are no words any journalist, poet, preacher or politician can say or write which will begin to assuage the tears these people now shed.  But just as surely as day follows night and rainbows follow storms, the South will recover andDixiewill rise again.  It is what these people do.  And they are very damned good at it. 


The mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks which killed thousands of innocent people in the United States has been killed inan American military operation.  The sonofabitch lived by the sword and he died by it.  While removing him from the planet will certainly not bring those people back, nor necessarily prevent future attacks by those who hate the West as much as he did, his death will certainly not be mourned in my house.  While I empathize with the right and need to celebrate, I hope we don’t go overboard.  All we need is to elevate his demise to martyrdom.  He’s gone.  Now let’s get on with it. 

Well, the good news is that American president Barack Obama produced the long form of his birth certificate and came on national television last week to talk about it.  What I’m bemused about (I love that word and apparently so does Mr. Obama) is the contention by some incredibly loose cannons that he could have gotten a driver’s license, much less been elected to the United States Senate and to the White House without having a birth certificate in the first place.  Total flipping idiocy is alive and well in theUnited States after all, apparently. 

In yet another sad chapter of a law enforcement agency apparently hoisted by its own petard, a King County, Washington judge threw out an case of alleged assault against a Seattle police officer, calling it the most poorly investigated case which had come before her in her 22 years on the bench.  As we have reported in previous editions, the Department is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice for abuses including the chronic use of undue force.  

Well, this doesn’t come as particularly good news.  The southern Puget Sound, which includes Pierce County and the city of Tacoma, has been cited for having some of the worst air quality in America, according to a study recently released by the American Lung Association. Seattle’s air is among the best in the country but to the south of us, they burn a lot of leaves, heat with wood and apparently use more diesel fuel and aerosol sprays.  All this produces essentially the same effect that produces smog. 


 This past week, Vancouverbecame the first Canadian city to make Smart cars available not by the hour but by the minute.  After an apparently successful trial run, this thriving West Coast metropolis has adopted Daimler’s car2go service.  This is the German motor company’s second excursion into North America.  Austin, Texas tried it first.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here. 

Canada’s Medical Hall of Fame Friday announced this year’s six inductees.  One of the things we thought was so cool about this was that two of them were not born here.  To learn who they were and the contributions which merited this most prestigious Hippocrates honour, please go here


Even as the victims of the rainstorms and tornados in the American South are still sifting through the rubble, response from other Americans and the World Community is on the way.  President Obama has already been to Alabamaand according to the Tuscaloosamayor, federal disaster relief assets are already arriving.  This is Americans helping other Americans and people helping people, without relying on the government to do take the initiative or the sole responsibility.  For more details, pleas go here

We’ve mentioned before how much we admire an individual who is willing to take the initiative to improve his own quality of life and that of his neighbors and community.  One resident of New York Cityhas decided to push the window on reducing his own carbon footprint and has come up with 42 ways to not make trash.

Felina:  .Samuel, I have been following the American media coverage of those terrible things Gaia has inflicted on those people who grow the fluffy white stuff, drive these rusty transportation machines with the box boxes in back and sing of times they call past but not forgotten.

Sam:    .Felina, I’m going to take a shot at this and say you’re not talking about a hard rain at a Stephen Foster Revival here.

Felina:  Quite so and of course not.  You know very well what I’m talking about.

Sam:    This time, oh sun and moon of my life, yep, I sure do.  I’ve been talking to a distant cousin of mine, Peter Alexander Panther.

Felina:  Oh yes, PAP.  I remember him from when we summered in the Florida Everglades the year all those fires filled our own skies with smoke.  He was a bit odd but quite charming in a way, once my ears adjusted to words that sounded as though they were taken by slow extraction from a hollow stump.

Sam:    Yep, that was Pap.  And if memory serves, he said he heard you best listening upwind, when a good stiff breeze was blowing through the swamp and put molasses and brakes to slow your words down.

Felina:  Quite so and point well taken.

Sam:    And sometimes, to my ears, “y’all” both talk funny, EH, Felina?

Felina:  Thank you, oh mate of my life, for reminding me that I can still blush.

Sam:    Ah, Lass, but you look so divine in scarlet.  However, we digress.

Felina:  Quite so but we have such an absolutely splendid romp doing it.

Sam:    We pluck jests from the jaws of death, as it were.

Felina:  We defy the Grim Reaper his Noah’s flood of gratification.

Sam:    We seek the sliver lining in every leaden cloud.

Felina:  And perhaps in so doing, we bring just a small ray of sunshine into the darkest of nights.

Sam:    We save our own sanity in the process.  And maybe, just maybe, we remind our human cousins that as harsh as the dictate must be, the first responsibility of each and every organism from the amoeba to the zebra is to survive to carry on.  That is, after all, we get paid the Big Money to do.

Felina:  I suspect that those who have made it through this monumental tragedy may not need that reminder as much as we sometimes assume they do?

Sam:    It never hurts to err on the side of caution, Felina.  It is always dark somewhere on the planet.  And sometimes the torch finds its own way there.

Felina:  But unless the torch is lit in the first place, there would be no light.

Sam:    This climatic cataclysm seems already to be bringing out the best in some of them.  I think it’s just unfortunate that it sometimes takes something of this magnitude to remind them that the beacon we seek to share burns within all of them.

Felina:  And, to quote the lines of a song born in their Great Depression, “Some where…over the rainbow…skies ARE blue…”

Sam:    Sing it, Felina.  You’ve the voice of the sweetest of mountain meadowlarks.

Felina:  “And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.”

Sam:    Beautiful, Sweetheart.  Simply beautiful.  And on that note then, Lass?

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



 How many of you, while at the workplace, have done something really dumb that embarrassed you, hurt someone else or offended your boss?  If nobody raised their hand, I will.  And to be totally candid, I did not always handle it well.  However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your job or life as we know it on this planet.  For suggestions and strategies to mitigate such blush-producing faux pas, please go here. 


We caught this one on a quick walk-through and have yet to learn the name of it. There are no signs out front and the lone man behind the cash register was too busy to engage in conversation. We consider this a tribute to both the passion of Seattle-ites’ love of coffee and the spirit of neighborhood entrepreneurialship which provides it. Photo by Merritt Scott Miller



  • On Wednesday, May 4, the PacificScienceCentercelebrates “Star Wars Day” with activities for all ages.  The featured exhibit is “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,” which runs through Monday, May 8, 2011.  It includes 21 innovative interactive exhibits that explore the fantasy technologies depicted in the Star Wars films. For more information, visit the Pacific Science Center website  or call (800) 664-8775


  • 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 




To me, one of the keys to good health is the ability to get along with one’s spouse, partner or significant other.  It’s tough, sometimes, under the best of circumstances.  Here are ten suggestions for maintaining a happy relationship.

According to an article in England’s Daily Mail, seven of what we consider our healthiest habits may, in fact, be doing us more harm than good.  Our thanks to Ken and Maddie in Manchesterfor this one and for more, please go here

We mention Alzheimer’s Disease often in this section of The Northstar Journal because the biggest segment of the human population ~ Baby Boomers ~ is facing it and because we personally feel not enough government and private monies are being channeled toward its research, treatment and cure.  We’re therefore going to share with you one of those tear-jerkers which should also move and inspire.  It comes also from our friends in Manchesterso for more, please go here



Thankfully, we’re hearing more and more about the war on cancer.  What about the warriors who wage these battles?  How do they react when one of them becomes a casualty?  For a very moving answer to this question, 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 inAlaska, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington 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.



 Since 1992, the rumors have been elusive, vague, difficult to document or prove.  A species once thought thoroughly exterminated in Oregon is now back and earlier this month, the proof become incontroverible.  Wolverines have returned to Oregon.  For proof, go here.

Just as the history of America has been the displacement and destruction of human beings, societies and civilizations that were here and well established when Europeans first arrived in this hemisphere, so it has been that these New Americans have and continue to do the same to other species.  That trend, however, appears to be slowly reversing itself.  For an absolutely fascinating look at how, why and what each of us can do to assist in that correction for course, please go here.  It’s an article from one of our favorite magazines and if you’re a critter lover, I suspect you’re going to enjoy this as much as I did.

 Recommended Related Links:




If I told you that one of the richest men in the world is helping to fund the production and marketing of a battery powered by dirt, you’d have to wonder what I’d been drinking, smoking, dropping, sniffing or otherwise ingesting.  And I wouldn’t blame you.  This is weird even for this modest weekly enterprise and a part of the country that has redefined eccentric.  What’s even stranger is that it’s one of 87 such out of the box prototypes designed to improve the quality of life in countries which, for far too long, have lacked the resources to boostrap out of the quagmire of profound poverty.  So for your own edification and to bridge Northstar’s yawning credibility gap, please 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.

It doesn't cost anything to browse, right, gang?


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.



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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