Winner of Two Hersh Best Read On The Net Awards

Volume 4, No. 38

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Seattle, Washington

Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Canyonville, Oregon June 1989, just before leaving to move to Seattle

 Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, some weeks are not as rowdy or as intense as some others and this one has been a relatively quiet one.  We certainly hope it’s been like that at your house, as well.  In response to those of you who have asked if the rumours are true, yes, we are moving from our present physical location but we’ll still be inSeattle and very likely in the same neighborhood.  We anticipate being in our new “digs” by American Thanksgiving and in time to celebrate Christmas with friends and family flying in from out of town.  Thanks once again for the concerns expressed.  We anticipate a smooth transition and we’ll certainly let you know if we run into any snags along the way.  Sometimes in life you need extra advice and I’m certainly not going to turn down any from the eight flags you folks represent.

The weather inSeattle’s turning from summer to Fall for the second time this month and even for a city with eight micro-climates, that’s a bit much.  I characterize the people who live here as being extremely laidback about most things and especially the weather, which they include along with bad politics as a natural disaster. UniversityofWashingtoncommunications professor and Canadian photojournalist Tony Chan said he loved this town because the natives remind him of “Canadians in drag.”  I’ve never been exactly sure what he meant by that but Dr. Chan is a southpaw so I suspect it was a compliment.  It is significant to note then that when the whole town develops a case of the grouchies, it’s likely because of a sudden shift in the weather, rather than anything anyone did or failed to do.  The rain I’m listening to now reminds me of that.  And in a lot more personal way that news from Camelot on thePotomac.  I suspect it’s that way with most of you, whether it’s Ottawa, Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin or Canberra.

Wallingford, my neighborhood, has a lot of young families andUniversityofWashingtonstudents so even though the young people in my life not going through this annual ritual, I’m reminded that school has started once again.  I personally really respect educators.  Some of them have the patience attributed to saints andHudson Riverfly fishermen.  I can think of a couple offhand who deserve canonizing.  Why?

When I was in school and just a lad, they tried to teach me good from bad.  I’m sorry to say, it didn’t work.  They said smile but I heard smirk.

Different realities, one might say.  They wrote the night, I read the day.  They said listen, I heard talk.  And who’d rather run, when you can walk?

It put them out, I’ll tell you that.  Them tossing the ball, while I threw the bat.  They took the pledge and gave me curses.  And they quoted chapter, while I wrote verses.

A bit of a trial, learning and me; fruit of knowledge, bark of the tree.  Kind of like broccoli and the first President Bush, or Danny Quail, showing his tush.

Like Saddam Hussein and Omar Sharif; U.S. Marines spelling ‘instant relief’.  Fighting for peace, war to end war.  Sorry folks, I don’t want anymore.

So here’s to my dear old alma mater, and to my cousin, who married his daughter.  Here’s to those who make the rules.  But most of all?

Here’s to wisdom wasted on fools.

MISINFORMATION © 1995 Merritt Scott Miller


Once in a great while, something so incredibly beautiful happens and we are again reaffirmed in our belief in miracles and a gentler, saner and more loving America.  This saga of a family cat named Willow, who was lost five years ago in Colorado and turned up in New York City five years later is such an event.  It is the stuff of legacy and how we are reacting speaks well of our national character.  For the Today Show video on this one, please go here.

Sometimes art does indeed precede reality or the discovery of same.  Astronomers have discovered a planet which orbits two suns, just like Tatooine, the home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker in the George Lucas “Star Wars” films.  The New York Times really knocked itself out putting this story together and it includes a really cool video.  Yep, check it out here.

In conjunction with the largest dam removal and habitat restoration project in American history, ten Chinook salmon are being released into a high mountain lake on the Elwah River.  This particular fish has not been seen in these waters in over a century and one of the reasons the two dams which have prevented that are being removed is because now, this particular watershed is valued more in its natural state than it is as a generator of electricity for the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula.  See related  Study: Salmon big winners from Klamath dam removal and Study: Salmon big winners from Klamath dam removal


There are no irradiated fish in Western Canadian waters, according to the federal agency responsible for insuring the safety of food those under the flag of the Maple Leaf eat.  This was in response to concerns that the nuclear power plant breached after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami may have released enough radiation to compromise life on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.   

The dramatic appearance of the world’s second largest whales off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island is being heralded as an encouraging sign that this endangered species is making a comeback.  Massive whales make rare appearance in BC waters is a gripping and dramatic story and a fine example of why Canadian journalism is respected around the world.

In what simply has to stand as a miracle of habitat restoration, salmon are returning to Howe Sound and Brittannia Creek.  Long known to environmentalists as one of Canada’s “dead zones, it is now, to quote Globe & Mail reporter Mark Hume, “a shining example of what can happen when enough people care and government acts.”


At a time when cafeteria school lunches are being either downsized because of rising food costs or finding themselves unable to meet the expenses associated with good nutrition, Aldergrove Secondary School, in the agricultural Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada, has solved that problem.  They are the first academic institution in that nation to take part in the Farm to School program that brings fresh homegrown foods into the school cafeteria every school day.

Urban ‘farming’ is growing in North America (and yes, pun intended).  I personally feel that the more we can do for ourselves and for one another, the better off we are, both as producers selling to local but reliable markets, and as consumers, getting our food from those we know and trust.

A 12-year-old Southern California girl showed both remarkable presence of mind and inter-species understanding when a 150-lb/68 kg yearly bear invaded the family home in a small community in the San Bernardino Mountains.  The local media is calling it a “reverse Goldilocks” and the encounter ended without injury to any of those involved, including the bear.  For a video interview of this remarkable young person and some footage of her “invader,” please go here.

One of our truly favourite human beings on the planet, American actor and comic Dick Van Dyke, is working with the World Wildlife Federation to save tigers from extinction.  He’s got a couple of public service videos out now, A Message about Tigers from Dick Van Dyke and on the WWF website.  To those of us who love tigers and Mr. Van Dyke both, these public service announcements are works of art.


On Wednesday, NASA reported that a 6.5-ton weather satellite the size of a bus was  in decaying orbit around the earth.  Some 25 large pieces were expected to survive re-entry.  The agency which put this pup up there in the first place could not predict where those chunks of space debris would land.  They said, however, that the odds of any of those pieces striking a human being were one in 3,200.  I live in a city of 612,000 people and there are about 7,300 per square mile.  I’m glad it apparently landed in the Pacific Ocean.  I do wish, however, that if they’re going to put this stuff up there, they’d bring it back BEFORE it runs out of gas.  One in 3,200 are cute stats to play with.  I live, generally, however, with better odds than that.

The John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation has released it’s latest list of their “genius grants”.  These $500,000 behests are given to those the Foundation judges have contributed something resonant to society and are also of good heart and character, as well.  The scientific community is well represented this year and that list alone strongly suggests why Yankee ingenuity remains an American national trait.  

Imagine knowing what every appliance, machine, electrical outlet, faucet and window in your home is doing every minute of the night and day.  Now, stop imagining and go here.


In times like these, those of us prone to occasional stress-induced anxiety attacks should be grateful to learn that relief might be as close as a tuna sandwich away.  Yep, this is about foods we can eat, something I much prefer to pharmaceuticals and creative self-medication.  Salmon and sardines also work real well for this.

As more and more Baby Boomers move into the Gerontology Generation capable of independent living, the need to make sure these seniors are okay will become more imperative.  Thanks to constantly evolving technology and Internet options, this is becoming easier and less stressful than it ever have before.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.

Tips and Tools For Staying Young
Weight Watchers:  Calculate Your Body Mass Index


When you’re fighting perhaps the most insidious disease to afflict a living organism on this planet, you want to know that there are others who are fighting for and with you.  There is absolutely nothing more I can add to Carol Ostrom’s Seattle Times story headlined Breast-cancer blogger gets drugs closer to patients.

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


What’s Playing Havoc with Economy? Costly Energy?  University of Texas researcher Carey King offers a rather startling answer and one which could dramatically impact our own lives and literally reshape the energy industry itself.  Yep, go here.  See also Recent Discoveries Put Americas Back in Oil Companies’ Sights


Best of Net Video This Week

Winter, A Dolphin’s Tale is the Flipper of this generation and is the true story of a dolphin so snarled in commercial crab trap that her fluke had to be amputated in order to free her.  She was adopted by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she was fitted with a prosthetic.  The film, starring Kris Kristofferson and Morgan Freeman, is out now and I highly recommend it.

Cat Encounters is exactly what its title suggests.  This one stars a cat familiar to Northstar Journal readers because she was featured in Seattle scenes.  Yep, she’s the black cat with six toes on her front paws who lives in this house.  The producer of this video is one of the people who lives here with us.  With thanks to Carl Slater, et al.

Northstar Editor’s Net Video Favorites

Animal Tracks is msnbc.com/The Today Show’s CRITTER STUFF.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordially wild.  This is a great stress buster for me and a profound pick-me-up if I’m having a “poor me” day.

Amistad – John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) argues the case of the Amistad slaves before the US Supreme Court.  I enjoyed the entire film but this particular clip sends chills through me and also made me proud that I am also an American.

Word Games

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.

Hostile Feelings Release Game

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.


NEW ADDITIONSafercar.gov is the 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.


Next time you’re feeling a little down? May these three ~ the little dog, the 3-legged big one, and the human who loves them ~ inspire. Photo by Merritt Scott Miller


“For the Love of Cheese,” the Decibel Festival and Rockstar Uproar Festival – Seattle are all local events coming up this week.  To find out what else is going on, Upcoming Events

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


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.


Once in awhile, we run across something that is too cute for words but not for a YouTube video.  Check out Jedi Kittens and Jedi Kittens Strike Back.

A newly formed wolf pack unsuccessfully attacked a 1,500-sheep flock in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State recently.  Thanks to the efforts of Gabby, a sheep dog injured in the attack, none of the sheep fell prey.  As endangered predator species are being re-established in their native territory, encounters like this are inevitable and the state, local residents and owners of sheep and cattle are working together on a recovery program which will, among other things, compensate those victimized.  Yep, for more on this one, please go here.

Thanks to a lot of help from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, 1,400 Oregon spotted frogs ~ an imperiled species in their home state ~ will be released into the wetlands of the southern Puget Sound.  Their chances are much better in their new home and will help mitigate the impact on other species who depend on them.  The garter snake’s diet is comprised largely of these small amphibians.  The snake, in turn, is food for badgers, coyotes, foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, weasels, great blue herons, hawks, eagles, and owls.

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


Spontaneous combustion is defined by Merriam-Webster as : self-ignition of combustible material through chemical action (as oxidation) of its constituents —called also spontaneous ignition.  Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) has a history going back ~ some allege ~ to Biblical Times.  Ireland had its first ever incident of it last week.  Our thanks to Carl in Seattle and the BBC for this one.

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.
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