HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY IN AMERICA, A VETERAN REFLECTS

 
USS Hollister (DD 788)

ATONEMENT

It was Christmas Eve and even the Buddhists were turning out.

While their former European masters gathered in basement pubs

to dance and wassail, while from their towers beyond,

Red Chinese border guards smiled knowingly.

 

We’d just come off the gunline and I was tired of killing.

I’d known even then that a single death buries a thousand dreams.

My ship alone snuffed out Paradise several times over.

 

I watched it all again on a Hong King ferry plying the harbor to Kowloon.

White mingled with  yellow, Confucius with Commodore Perry;

the Mings with Macbeth and the Mandarins with Richard the Nix.

 

Back and forth I rode, sometimes forward, other times aft,

but mostly amidships, like Gulliver in an artillery barrage.

Each trip, a few more of my own dreams died.

 

It was an act of penance which continued until another gulf

and another war gave both Jesus and God

something else to regret.

 Hong Kong,  Christmas 1970

RMSN Scott Miler, Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

 

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea, and of course, Happy Memorial Day,America.  This is also one of Northstar’s high holidays.  I’m a veteran and for many years now, I’ve also studied wars down through history.  I’m also personally familiar with the quality of heroism of not only Americans and Canadians but of some other nations and people.  I certainly appreciated it in those who were the designated enemy in “my” war. 

But these are very human feelings and hardly limited to mortal combat.  We, as a species, seek superlatives.  They inspire many of us to reach, to climb, to struggle.  In spirit, it is a good.  Sometimes, in my mind at least, the application leaves something to be desired.  I’m thinking now of millions of kids embarking on the adventure of life for the first time. IraqandAfghanistanhave challenged professional soldiers.  As hard as it is to accept, Mars or the Grim Reaper also took some of the best this species had to offer.  And there’s absolutely no way of recovering that loss.  They’re gone and I think the question we need to ask ourselves as well on Memorial Day is how many more we want to remember that way? 

I’d prefer to see those heroes and heroines doing 911 jobs; teaching kids in tough neighborhoods; showing that traditionalDetroitworking man’s ethics can still build good albeit electric cars; dreaming and working for the day when a black woman inAmericacan be president and becoming her.  I have had two young people in my life serve in Operation Desert Storm.  Both, thank God, came back.  But they came back different and there’s a part of them I loved once that is no longer there.  When they lost those dreams of being all you can be under the wings of the eagle, I lost something very precious, as well, and so did all of the rest of you.  That young woman and that young man were special.  All ofAmerica’s youth is special. 

I don’t want any more of our young people dying for this country.  I want them granted the right to live for it. 

Enough of them have died.

IN OTHER NEWS 

History was made this past week in space.  Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called the International Space Station and gave the 12 orbiting astronauts therein his special blessing.  What we thought was also cool is that His Holiness made special mention of Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly’s wounded congresswoman wife and the recently deceased mother of one of the two Italian astronauts on board.  I thoroughly enjoyed this most human of stories and I recommended so yetp, for more, please go here. 

Well, this ought to come as interesting news to the coffee world and particularly those of us who live in the North American capital of fans of this particular genre of caffeine devotion.  Michelle Gass, Starbucks CEO, has been tapped to transform Seattle’s Best Coffee, a competitor they bought out in 2003 but with which they haven’t done much, into another winner.  Her talent for innovative marketing and her tough insistence on all the infrastructure to make a new marketing concept work made Frappuccinos Starbucks’ big winner.  That product alone accounts for approximately 20 percent of the coffee giant’s totally annual income.  It will be interest to see what Michelle does with this.  Personally, I’m will waiting for the brand which goes for commercial fishermen, longshoremen, teamsters, line workers, factory workers, the people who make up the base of the local market base here in Seattle and in a lot of other places.  I’d like to see “straight black coffee,” “coffee with sugar,” “coffee with cream,” “coffee with both” back on the menus in a typeface that is simple to read and large enough to not suggest the proverbial small print in a contract.  If anyone happens to run into Ms. Gass in the next couple of years, you might pass that along to her. 

We note with some sadness, that a bit of television history is being made.  After 25 years, the Oprah Winfrey Show ended this past Wednesay.  Oprah Winfrey is a role model for me.  I admire the empowerment she gave so many of us.  She led by personal example in a career that spanned both television and the Big Screen.  She was a generous philanthropist and who encouraged her financial peers to be the same.  She eschewed the role of Planetary Save and focused on causes that resonated with her especially.  I’m sure her television show will make syndication.  But what means more to me is that Oprah’s life is hardly over and I know she’s got a lot left to do.  That alone will probably turn out to be better than any of the episodes of a program which won a blizzard of awards and deserved every one of them.  Oprah?  Girl, you rock. 

We were not real pleased to learn that it was a dusty protocol which prevented more from being done to prepare Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant for the earthquake and tsunami which compromised its operational integrity and risked thousands of life in the process.  We trust that by now, all concerned are taking steps to make sure that this is corrected.  All nuclear power plant operators are required to submit to the nation’s nuclear regulatory agency an assessment of risks by damage from, tidal waves earthquakes and other natural disasters. Fukushima’s report was submitted nine years ago and never updated.  In those nine years, seismology and other geologic technology has advanced significantly.  If we read this right, we expect that the Japanese government will issue another call or risk assessments and review them in light of contemporary technology. 

OH CANADA

Sometimes I’m reminded that even in the far north, life can be dumb.  Apparently, a husband and wife couple in Toronto who are expecting a third child decided not to tell anybody what the gender of this latest offspring is.  The decision apparently got in-laws, outlaws, old maid aunts or unwed first cousins really bent out of shape because somebody called the Star and now other media are picking it up, all because two people decided they didn’t want any gender expectations being transferred to the fetus, somehow.  Sound strange?  It’s not.  A baby can sense the reality beyond its womb at an extremely early age.  So that measure of protection is not unrealistic.  It’s just not covered by a nosey relative clause in the medical plan.  More fundamentally than that, though, it seems to me there was a time when the rest of the species could wait until a child announced its own entrance into the world as the gender IT decided it wanted to be.  Once man’s opinion on this one too and if you’ve got another, I’d love to hear it, with permission to publish.  Just email me here

Vancouver, already one of the “greenest” cities in North America and the former British Commonwealth, is coming up with even more ways to improve the quality of life there by doing such things as widening sidewalks, closing more streets to private motorized transportation, creating new bike lanes and mini-parks and encouraging more decorative as well as organically subsistence gardens within the city limits.  For more on this emerald of the Canadian west, please go here

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:

 GOOD EXAMPLES

 Last week, we reported that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth gave us a history-making movement when she visited Ireland.  America’s president Barack Obama is visiting the week.  His mother traces her roots to Moneygall, a village not far fromDublin, which is understandably real excited to welcome home a native son as it were.  What I think is especially cool about this is the potential of reminding everybody that Mr. Obama is also “half white.” 

We’d normally be included to run this under Critter Stuff but this is such a splendid example of human cooperation with the larger needs of nature that it more properly belongs here.  Essentially, it’s the story about the rescue of a very small fawn from a decorative rock garden in a neighborhood in a small down in Oregon.  It’s a simply told tale, straightforward but rich in imagery.  There’s a little girl in it, a frantic mother deer and a video of the entire rescue.  As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t get much better than this.  So yep, go here.

This might possibly be an excellent example of integrity in uniform or it might just be something we are real glad happened.  Apparently, at a recent air show in Virginia, the US Navy’s famed aerial acrobatics team, the Blue Angels, violated Southern air space when four of the six of them, in a diamond formation, flew lower than regulations permitted.  They abbreviated their performance at that exhibition and cancelled performances over the Memorial Day weekend.  One of the pilots also resigned.  For more on this one, please go here

SURVIVING BAD TIMES 

Sometimes, surviving bad times is also a matter of managing the stress of them.  And even as we’re slowly inching ourselves, millimeter by millimeter and inch by inch out of a global economic recession and some incredibly weird weather, this is also one which stands for good times as well as bad.  So for more, please go here.  And for those who may have noticed, yes, this column has changed it’s name from Surviving Hard Times to Surviving Bad Times.  I profoundly hope that I’m not the only person among us who can say that for sure, the one thing I’ve learned in the last several years especially, is that no matter how well intentioned; how comprehensively planned; how much support we’ve tried so hard to gather, for some reason, it just does not work out.  I’m assuming we all know that by now and I want focus on where we can take that.  Sometimes I think part of the solution lies somewhere between more realistic goals and a good back up plan.  But that’s just one man’s thoughts on it and I’d love to hear and share yours

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Since they’ve been in the news so much, we thought we’d bring you some information on the facts and fictions of tornadoes

HEALTH NEWS 

Well, this one caught me a little off guard until I thought about it.  And now it makes perfect sense.  Researchers have discovered that shopping is really healthy.  They assume it’s not couch spudding it behind a computer but actually physically getting off your rumpus, out the door and at least as far as the Camry or the Civic and then down to the mall, where moving sidewalks haven’t replaced shank’s mare as the primary mode of transportation.  Yep, the walking involved is supposed to real good for you.  And then there’s the mental exercise of looking at prices, etc.  Finally, apparently there’s that primordial joy of acquisition which makes laissez faire capitalism such a ubiquitous force in the cosmo.  Yep, for more, please go here

ON THE CANCER FRONT 

Pancreatic cancer strikes one in 71 Americans.  Off those afflicted, only six percent survive.  Seventy-five percent of patience are dead within the first year.  Less than two percent of the funding received for cancer research goes to this one and this needs to change.  Advocates for pancreatic cancer patients have introduced pieces of proposed legislation into the American Congress; House of Representatives 745 and US Senate Bill 3320 .  We urge our American readers to quickly review these and follow the links to email your elected officials, asking for the swift and timely passage of these two measures.  In the time it has taken to read this, 150 people have died of this disease. 

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:

FROM YOU GUYS

Thanks again, Sacred.  WRR

 NORTHSTAR FAVORITES

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.

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 andWashingtonState.

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.

 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.

 SEATTLE SCENES

 

Seattle’s Blue Moon Tavern dates back to 1934 and has an extremely colorful history.  It’s also a personal favorite of mine.  If I had a “hang out,” this would probably be it.  I like the pool tables, the really casual atmosphere and the absolutely gorgeous green-eyed, redhaired bartendress who serves everything from two-dollars Pepsis with ice to the most sophisticated mixed drinks with a down home élan and graciousness that is the very essence of the spirit of the region.  The Moon also has an extremely active local music scene at night.  Sited on the western edge of the University (of Washington) District and the Wallingford neighborhood, it’s also one of Seattle’s more easily accessible landmarks.  It is right off Interstate 5, the north-sound West Coast central freeway system running from San Diego, California to Blaine, Washington on the border with Canada.  Next time you’re in Seattle, let me know and I’ll email you directions.  Photo by MS(R)M 

For Seattle Readers Especially 

Nope.  It wasn’t your imagination.  We’ve been waiting a long time for it and on Friday it finally came.  The mercury hit 70F/21C mark.  Spring came to Seattle last week.  And it was glorious while it lasted. 

SEATTLE FACTS
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
Contrary to popular misconception, in terms of annual rainfall, Seattle doesn’t even rank in the top 15 American cities.  But it’s on the short list for the number of rainiest days, at 151.  For more and to see where your own city falls, please go here.
 
More Seattle Facts & Figures
Upcoming Events

NORTHSTAR CLASSIFIEDS 

Rusty Miller – Writer/Editor For Hire for everything from business letters to data entry to editing and proofing, to speech writing and special projects, you’ll find it here at negotiable rates.  I don’t consider any request too small and I don’t take on any that are too large.  For a full list of services and more information, please go here

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, courtesy of amazon.com.  Our shelves are stocked with quality products which reflect the tastes and interests of Northstar Journal readers in America, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany and Australia.  This is a fun place to spend money on gifts that will surprise your friends and please them.  And you’ll get a reputation for good taste at reasonable prices.  It doesn’t cost anything to browse so come it by clicking here.

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

CRITTER STUFF 

Well, here’s something you don’t expect to see every day.  In China, there’s a lady dog taking over the female parenting of two liger (lion & tiger) kittens after their mom rejected this one.  You’ve just got to check this one out for yourselves

Hundreds of volunteers in the Florida Keys are working to save stranded pilot whales which have mysteriously beached themselves in the shallow waters off these south Florida islands.  This is the kind of adventure they make into the kind of films I watch avidly because I get such a rush from watching human beings behave as though they actually do belong to the greater planetary web of life.  So, of course, I totally loved this one and bet you will too

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
Bugguide.net – More than most of us ever wanted to know about these critters
The National Park Service’s endangered species database
Center for Biological Diversity — profiles for a wide range of rare flora and fauna
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List – a comprehensive database for rarities around the planet 

 

YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP 

If I told you guys there was a museum devoted to the SPAM you can eat, there might be a few raised eyebrows beyond Canada, Americaand possibly the UK.  If I said there was one devoted to barb wire, that might be stretching it.  But to suggest seven showcases of the weird might be compromising my credibility totally so yet, for this Northstar Journal Excursion Into The Weird, yep, please go here

Well, somewhere between Los Angeles and Seattle, 12½ tons of Russian king crab with an estimated street value of around $400,000 got hijacked.  The driver and his freight are missing and authorities believe this is the work of a highly organized group.  I have to agree.  However, it is apparently not that difficult to repackage this stuff.  And with crab prices reportedly at an all time high, I could certainly see the motivation.  What I still cannot understand, however, is why they would want to ship all that crab to Seattle when we already have plenty of our own, both coming in and flowing out.  Weird stuff, this stuff.  Yep, for more, go here.

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

Take care, stay well and God Bless 

Rusty

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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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