STARBUCKS, FINN MACOOL’S AND INTERNET CHATROOMS; LEGACIES OF A LONESOME COWBOY

WINNER OF TWO HERSH BEST READ ON THE NET AWARDS

Vol. 4, No. 37

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Because I can still remember Sergeant Preston of the Yukon on the radio in the deep reaches of the Pacific Northwest, I think that I am sometimes overly fascinated by the instant communication the Internet make possible.  I am not quite as old as the Pony Express but my Grandpa Rudy was a cowboy and I have always had the profoundest respect for the postal services of both countries which are home to me.  I have also seen naval combat in Vietnam, worked as the lead dispatcher for the Forest Service during the Angel Complex fire in southern Oregon and stood some long lonely watches as a small town newspaper reporter and editor.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy chatrooms sometimes even more than I do the pub around the corner or the Starbucks down the street.  Here they gather, people from all over the country and the world’.  People from all walks of life, backgrounds, education, experience and lifestyle coming together, 36 at a time, to converse with keyboarded words.  And these virtual coffeehouses and pubs range the spectrum from the truly down home gathering of family, good friends and neighbours to some of the most lethally bizarre behaviour ever accorded a species still living on this planet.

I am very distantly related to an American humourist of some note who often began his musing on the human comedy with something like, “And I have been studying this rather remarkable creature conceived and created on the Sixth Day with what was left over ~ and I understand that was, by and large, mud…”  Sam would, I suspect, enjoy chatrooms as an aspect of the human experience as much as I do.  His compassion ran deep and because he could not stop himself from feeling the pain of others, he fought to free all slaves by sending one down the Ohio to freedom on a raft with a white boy who was also, in his own way, fleeing bondage.

The brutality and savagery I’m seeing in some of the chatrooms I use for survey bothers me and it’s not because I haven’t seen it before.  Of course I have.  We all have.  I’m also seeing an alarming distancing of the electorate from the elected.  That frustrates and scares me because in both my countries, I’m a Constitutional fundamentalist.  I do not expect the long arm of Ottawa to stretch to Victoria, nor does it make a lot of sense to me that a nation as geographically vast as the United States of America could be governed by people clear across the continent from where I live. 

I choose my elected officials with the same care I do anyone else I need to do a job I either can’t do or cannot do as well.  They work for me, not the other way around.  And since they’re spending the money I pay for the services the governments out here have traditionally provided, darn straight I pay attention to what they say and do.  And if I’m paying for a good Morgan saddle horse, I’m sure as Satan not going to feed a jackass.

I also realize that these council members, aldermen, mayours, city, provincial and state officials cannot do it alone.  I very much believe in town hall meetings from the neighbourhood level to the national.  The Internet makes a marvelous venue for that, if that’s one of the ways people choose to use it.  The flip side of that, of course, is that it can also be used to seed hate and discontent among us at the very time when we most need to learn to trust one another again and work together to get through this.

There seems to be a lot of North Americans from across the demographic who forget ~ and not just in chatrooms ~ that there is another human being at the other end.  Regardless of how he or she comports themselves, they are still creatures very much alive and/or struggling against sometimes impossible odds to stay that way.  That single truth about us as a global family supersedes all demographics and makes a mockery of most of them.  We are nothing if not lethally presumptuous in our territorial conceits.

Because I can see the stars and the Cascades from the window of the attic room I’ve been renting from friends, it’s not hard for me to remember a slim, whipcord and saddle leather rancher by the name of Rudy Bowman.  A quiet man whose silences were more eloquent than the words of most other men, I can recall him getting up in the middle of the night sometimes in his red long johns, jeans and boots and going out up this small ridge that cut across our mountain.  It was like right across the street and it wasn’t high.  It was just shed of the property and out of hearing range of Grandma Vera’s chickens.

He’d just stand there, looking up at the sky, with his hands deep in his pockets and his suncreased eyes taking in that heavenly panoply.  He saw things up there and felt and tasted and talked.  All without uttering a word or showing the least emotion.  That man’s heart could sing, though, and it was almost like he was this small but indomitable beacon of decency and honesty standing there letting the whole universe know that, “Yes, there is life on Earth.  But hold off visiting for just awhile yet.  The house isn’t quite ready for company.”

It took progressive rheumatoid arthritis, three strokes and several surgeries for glaucoma to put that man down.  To quote Dylan Thomas, Rudolf Laurence Bowman did not “go gentle into that good night.”  We were all gathered around his bed when he died.  His last words were to his wife of 55 years.

“Vera, if I’m not home by first light, please don’t forget to feed the dogs, Lass.”

I wonder what he’d think of some of us now.

IN OTHER NEWS

Well, with the film Contagion sweeping the box office last week, it is reassuring to know that there are several companies working on drugs to fight the viruses depicted in that movie.  One, in Bothell, Washington, claims that it has the “key” to creating and manufacturing these new medical “silver bullets”.  Yep, for more, please go here.

If there is one crime for which I strongly suspect there is no Divine Redemption, it is the abuse of children.  It comes as good news to learn that the two counties which comprise the northern half of the Greater Puget Sound have been awarded nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to fight child prostitution.

America’s economy is in worse shape than even most pessimistic fiscal experts predicted.  According to a report recently issued by the US Census Bureau, more of us are living below the poverty level than in the 52 years these records have been kept.  The gap between the rich and the poor in this country has also increased dramatically.  For more, please go here.

We’ve ordered a cake with 40 candles.  That’s hold old Greenpeace turned last week.  Our thanks to the CBC for a comprehensive and excellently crafted look at an international environment action group which was, in fact, born on Canadian soil.  For more on this one, please go here. 

OH CANADA

Well, Western Canada found a unique way to commemorate 9/11.  They had an earthquake.

Canada appears to be sitting on enough energy to supply the nation’s needs for the next 2,000 years.  And that’s assuming it is the only source of electricity which, of course, it is not.  Canada is a global leader in a systemically integrated power grid combining solar, tidal, wind, methane and low yield hydro.  Yep, for more on this one, go here.

GOOD EXAMPLES

When you’re holding your traumatically injured daughter in your arms and she’s begging you not to let her die, three things cross your mind.  You pray that God is listening.  You cut a deal, asking to be taken instead.  You pray that anyone and everyone who could save her life will at least try.  An emergency medical team in Seattle did.  For this gripping and true life drama, please go here.

Heart disease and related conditions kill millions of Americans and cost $444-billion dollars a year.  The US Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) is leading a campaign to prevent one million deaths over the next five years.  This is an outstanding example of how our tax dollars should be used.

I do so love it when the federal government decides to get outraged taxpayers off its back by cleaning up its own act.  I love it even more when they decide to tell me about it.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION

Being able to master the tools and entertainment of our lives by remote control has long fascinated humankind.  The technology has allowed some of us to become couch potatoes and some of us to sit in a trailer in a Washington, DC suburb and assassinate terrorists by “flying” explosive packed drone aircraft across terrain an ocean and continent way..  What if doing this did not require a “device” but simply a human gesture?  What if we became our remotes?  Yep, check it out here.

As America moves into the New Electric Age, not only is a great deal of research and development going into improving the storage capacity, frame and body weight and aerodynamics of electric motor transport, but now a Japanese firm is developing a system which could power highways.  It’s the same essential principle as the overhead cable system so familiar to electric buses and cable cars.  I found this fascinating so yep, for more, please go here.

HEALTH NEWS

As America’s single largest generation in history moves within clear range of this disease, we thought it provident to provide these 7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s .

Pet owners rejoice, especially if yours has fur.  Three recent studies have confirmed that cuddling with your best “other species” friend is very healthy for you.  Yep, check it out here.

This can’t come as real good news to those in the United Kingdom who have metal artificial hips.  The Registry which tracks such things discovered a 33% failure rate in one such device.  Similar concerns have been voiced by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).  For more on this one, please go here.

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:
Tips and Tools For Staying Young
Weight Watchers:  Calculate Your Body Mass Index
 

ON THE CANCER FRONT

Lung cancer kills more Americans (estimated 150,000 will die of it this year) than any other form of the disease.  The good news is that the mortality rate has been on a consistent decline in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Florida.  Yep, for more, please go here.

RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS:
Cancer:  What You Need to Know
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Cancer Research Journal
National Cancer Institute (American)
Fighting Breast Cancer: Breast Cancer Survivor Stories
Science Daily:  Health & Medicine News
 

DEFINITELY SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Just how far has the government the right to go in its surveillance of suspected criminals, including terrorists domestic and imported?  Specifically, can law enforcement, for instance, attach a GPS device to a vehicle and use data from communications satellites and those specifically designed for orbital surveillance.  The US Supreme Court in November will decide whether or not this is one step closer to George Orwell’s 1984.

NORTHSTAR FAVORITES

NEW ADDITIONSafercar.gov is the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (HTSA) website.  It contains a wealth of safety and reliability information on motor vehicles.  You can also, as have we, subscribe to an email newsletter which informs its subscribers of all vehicle recalls and the reason for them.

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.

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 throughout the American west, northwest, Western Canada and Alaska.

USA.gov has a comprehensive email directory of American federal and state elected officials and government agencies.  You fill in two or three blanks, hit Enter and you’ve got what you need to offer support or air a grievance.

Yes magazine is the editorial hammer of the Green Movement and the most deeply rooted, informative, insightful and magazine on the Net.

SEATTLE SCENES

Infrastructure. Interstate Five crosses the Ship Canal as it leaves Greater Seattle

 

FOR SEATTLEREADERS ESPECIALLY

For those of us who live in allegedly one of the soggiest cities in the US(we’re actually the 41st rainiest one), the heavy rains we’re experiencing today come as a blessing.  Since late June, we’ve received less than an inch of the wet stuff.  So no, it’s not your imagination.  It has been one of the hottest and looongest summers on record.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going outside to get wet.  REALLY wet.

A reminder that this Saturday, September 24, is GirlFest.  Sponsored by the Western Washington Girl Scouts of America, its title pretty well explains it.  It is a celebration of girlhood and it is so big that it takes all of the former Qwest Stadium to host it.  For more information, including admission price and driving directions, go here.  If you’re planning on taking Metro, here’s their trip planner.

 

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, ranking it 41st in rainy US cities
More Seattle Facts & Figures
Upcoming Events
Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera 

 

TAKE A BREAK ON NORTHSTAR

Vocabulary Quiz:  Take this 10-word daily test and see how you rank with people your age, younger and older.

Daily Crossword:  This one from Universal has two levels.  It is extremely easy to use and it has some features like music and clues that we thought were pretty cool.

Other Word Games:  Merriam Webster has a totally creative menu.

Tank Hunter – This puts you behind the controls of a tank on a vast battlefield in which everything from small tanks to big ones to invisible ones is shooting at you.  Definitely the best game play of its type I have personally encountered.

AVAILABLE FROM NORTHSTAR

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 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.

Sponsorship ads are another way The Northstar Journal generates operating capital.  These begin at $5.00 a week for a simple small logo and web page link.  Ads more elaborate than that are negotiated and charged on an individual basis.  For more details, email us at minstrel312@aol.com.

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

CRITTER STUFF

Ever since an eight-foot blue proved to me that if sufficiently motivated, even mortal human beings can not only walk on water but flee for their lives across it, I have not been a fond of sharks.  I don’t hate them.  I just respect the Master Plan that put them where they are, in the bounding main, and me where I am, 150 feet above sea level and clearly out of reach until the next tsunami.  I learned rather recently that some of my species eats a soup made from just the fin of a shark.  One of you sent us a story about someone in Vancouver, British Columbia who does not think that’s cool and what she’s doing to stop it.

Attention cat lovers.  Those of us who feed our felines table scraps, fish, milk, eggs or chocolate are not doing them any favors.  Many foods that humans like and upon which they thrive are, in fact, lethal to cats.  For more on this, please go here.

In what this writer considers a rather belated assumption of responsibility, the US Fish & Wildlife Service is moving to protect a species of Oregon bumble bee which actually has not been seen in its range (southern Oregon and northern California) since 2006.  Bees are an absolutely essential link in the chain of life because they help plants reproduce by pollinating them.  There has been a dramatic decline in the bee population, continentally.  Those who petitioned the American government to protect the Franklin bumble bee, even though it may in fact already be extinct, did so in an attempt to wake the Fish & Wildlife Service to the need to protect these vital flying insects as a species in total.

To any Oregon or Washington beachcomber, the snowy plover is not only a familiar sight but a welcome one.  For those who live in coastal cities from Florence to Long Beach, the little bird is not only fun to watch but some claim it can predict the weather for them.  Their population went into a steep decline earlier this century but is apparently ~ and thanks to active efforts to protect them and their environment ~ now on the upsurge.  Our thanks to OregonLive.com for this one.  And yep, for more, please go here.

RELATED LINKS:
Oceana:  The National Geographic of the World’s Oceans
How to Behave Around Bears
Seattle/Lake Washington Eagle Camera
National Wildlife Magazine
Go Northwest:  Northwest Wildlife Websites
BBC’s wildlife finder
National Geographic Daily News – Animals
 

YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP

In the history of my mother’s people, there are stories of a good heart overcoming astronomically long odds.  I’m thinking right now of David and Goliath.  And a slender, softspoken woman from East of the Mountains who has decided, in her US Senatorial capacity, to take on the Alaska mining industry.  

Well, that’s about it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next, please go here.  For a quick way to respond to what you’ve experienced here, yep, go here.

Take care, stay well and God Bless.

 

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s