decus, integritas, probitas

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Volume 5, No. 4

Monday, January 23, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, our region is thawing out after our first winter storm of the new year.  If any event in recent memory was well covered by the media, this had to be it.  Our local stations had reporters with dashboard cameras out the whole time, providing viewers with a real time look at how things were in an area which includes several large lakes, hills as steep as any inSan Francisco and several microclimates with their own idiosyncrasies.  This is not a “one forecast covers all” kind of place.  Which is why the Native Americans never established a year-around presence here.  They knew they were safer on higher ground and out of the wind.  That is notSeattle nor most ofKingCounty.  It is not, in fact, most of thePuget Sound fromOlympia north to theSan Juan Islands.

We handled it well and largely without fanfare.  We got slammed harder than anyone expected but we’ll know better next time.  Many of those 250,000 homes that were without power will be better provisioned the next time.  It was also significant that most employers granted snow days while those who could make it in, did so.  There were almost ten times the number of motor vehicle accidents as usual but the majority of those were minor.  There was only one fatality. 

Our emergency services responded well from the State level on down.  Sound Transit and Metro, our two major bus and light rail carriers, performed superbly as well.  On the most intense day of this meteorological extravaganza, family business took me out into the blizzard.  I’m genetically predisposed to snow and ice in the winter and I’ve spent most of my life in the region or further north so this wasn’t personally that big a deal. 

It did give me the opportunity to see how my neighbors were doing in a landscape that was starting to remind me of the film Dr. Zhivago.  It was almost business as usual except that people were so heavily layered that it looked like we’d been invaded by these big and colorful walking winter sausages.  There were people on cross-country skis, families shopping by sled with the kids helping pull.  There were two delightful post toddlers dressed in wool caps that had ears on them, chasing their bundled mother around a small white parking lot, pelting her with snowballs.  There was the border collie pulling a sled with a small child garbed totally in white on it and a couple of kids in snowsuits pulling a red wagon with skis on it and their old (and sweatered) cocker spaniel peeking out from under a sea of gray wool in the bed of it.

Nobody complained.  Nobody got hysterical.  Nobody tried to make a movie of the week out of it.  It was good drama, our kind of drama.  It was something happening that could in no way be blamed on other human beings.  We had no choice but to cope because against the forces of nature, even the presumptive ambition of a French emperor pales before a Russian winter.  It was something happening not inWashington,DC,Afghanistan,Myanmaror theStrait of Hormuz.

And for the “superstitious” among us, it was a reminder that there are forces at play now that transcend even the braying and trumpeting of politics, the grudging recovery of the national economy or even ~ God forbid ~ who will make the next round of The World Has Talent.  It reminds us that as a species, we are young, and in some ways, as childlike as those primitive primate ancestors of ours who beheld thunder and lightning and rapidly and appropriately deduced whatDarwinas well concluded.

Survival falls not to the strongest, but to the most adaptable.  Storms are humbling experiences and they to tend to keep our conceit in check.  At least here on the shores of the SalishSea.  And I suspect, other places as well.


Of America’s 263 metropolitan areas, less than a tenth have regained the jobs lost since the Recession and only 26 are expected to achieve that goal by the end of 2012.  Economists are now predicting a full economic recovery might not be possible for another five years.  To see when your area is expected to recover, please see this mapFor more on this in general, please go here.

By the year 2100, the Canadian Prairies will have made a dramatic shift north as a result of global warming which is happening much faster than most forecasts have predicted.  NASA has an excellent map of the world color coded to indicate which eco zones will be most impacted.

Wall Street may have had a tough 2011 with stocks in some case devaluing by as much as 44 percent.  Dividends were down and employee bonuses dramatically smaller.  The CEOs of most of these outfits did not take nearly the hit, however.  Albeit I understand that corporations are not run like enlightened democratic governments nor is there apparently any ethical obligation for equal distribution of gains and losses.  I would just really like to hear ~ not from some company flak ~ but these corporate leaders themselves, what kind of pedigree they have and/or exactly what it is they do that makes them worth ten to one hundred times more than the people WITH WHOM they work?  Please remember, I also still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Beaver (Canadian) and that our species will survive long enough to evolve into an electorate capable of responsible self-government.


Those going snowmobiling in the Canadian Rockies will soon have the same information available to them as skiers and snowboarders, thanks to a three-year, federally-funded program.  It appears that technology is enabling these vehicles to go where no snowmobile has gone before.  Now, they need to be warned of the hazards of those remoter and more treacherous of winter wonderlands.

Western Canada remains under a snow fall advisory as storms continue to slam into British Columbia.

A remarkable silent film depicting the life of Arctic fur trappers is touring Canada now.  Commissioned by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1919 in preparation for their 250th anniversary.  A hit when it was produced, it was then retired to the archives and forgotten for nearly a century.  This is also, according to cinematic historians, also one of the first media documentaries ever produced and apparently its production values are outstanding.  For a glimpse of this film on YouTube, please go here.


It was another setback for a proposed pipeline which would carry crude oil from the Canadian mid-west to refineries on the Gulf Course.  Last week, President Obama refused to permit the proposed Keystone XL project.  For more on this, please go here.

If the average family does three loads of wash a week in cold water instead or hot or warm, they can save almost $2.00 a week and do something good for the planet.  For more on this and the blog of writer who makes his living showing the rest of us how to cut the cost of our and hug Gaia at the same time, please go here.

Thanks to the selfless efforts of volunteers, over a hundred baby seals which have washed up on the beaches of northern Netherlands in the wake of fierce European storms have been rescued.  The slide show alone on this one will have you cheering in a language you probably didn’t know you spoke.


As the readers of this feature know, we’ve been sending probes and rovers to Mars for quite awhile now, in an attempt to better understand a planet we may choose to colonize.  Apparently, millions of years ago, something struck the Red Planet hard enough to send chunks of the planet into the solar system and beyond.  Some of these finally landed on Earth last year and 15 lbs/6.8 kgs were discovered last month in North Africa.  Yep, for more, please go here.

The scientists who created a mutant strain of bird flu and were asked by the American government not to publish certain details of their experiments for fear of it being used by terrorists as a weapon have not only agreed to do that but have also temporarily halted their own research.  They are calling for an international forum to discuss how legitimate research can be conducted amid rising concerns for international security.

Is Planet Earth prepared to deal with a major astroidal collision?  That’s an assessment being made over the months ahead by a consortium of European space agencies and the international aerospace giant Astrium. 


One of the things I found out during a week of ice and snow here is that it does not take a gym to stay in shape.  Here’s a workout plan you can do anywhere.

Seafood lovers rejoice.  Here’s another good reason for having fish for two meals a week.  It reduces the risk of heart disease by 36 percent.  Salmon, trout, herring, sardines, flounder, haddock, cod, and canned light tuna (lower in mercury than white albacore) are all real good for you.  Because of their mercury content, the ones to avoid include swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, and mahi-mahi.

Center For Disease Control Disease FAQs Index
Tips and Tools For Staying Young
Weight Watchers:  Calculate Your Body Mass Index


Like any other often fatal disease, cancer takes its toll not only on the victims but upon the survivors, as well.  As prevalent as cancer is among the human population, everybody knows someone who has been impacted by it.  The suffering they endure does not exactly help those still struggling with this insidious killer but one thing which does help a lot is learning about how other people who love those battling cancer, including celebrities.

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


Why do so many politicians lie and why do we let them get away with it?



Watch how a wasp uses its airlifting capabilities to deal with an ant competing for the same morsel of food.  I can think of a lot of human applications for this one and I’m sure you can too.


Animal Tracks is’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial.  This is a great stress buster for me and a profound pick-me-up if I’m having a “poor me” day.

Baby pandas soak up sun for the first time

The Foundation For A Better Life produces 15 – 90 second inspirational videos equally ~ if not surpassing ~ the video vignettes produced by Hallmark, Folgers Coffee and Campbell Soup.  These are human stories, sans preaching, and to me, their appeal is universal.  Three I’d recommend right off the top are Concert, The Class Room and Spirit of America.

FREE VIDEO is for those of us who in whom the Inner Child is still alive and well.  It’s a joyful romp with totally ingenuous music and outstanding video footage, including scenes of trolley cars inSan Francisco.  This one gets fives stars from us. 

NASA Probe To Explore Jupiter is a National Geographic video whose production values I found outstanding.  This is one you might enjoy sharing with the family.

This National Geographic slideshow of an underwater park comprised of life-sized human statues is nothing short of incredible.

National Geographics Photos of the Week are of a newly discovered tiny galaxy.

National Geographic’s Video Page is the diversion the doctor ordered If you’re looking for a video experience that will definitely take you out of wherever you are and you don’t mind your reality coming at you in relatively short bursts (about long enough to keep a fussing child occupied).

OH AMERICA – Celtic Woman expresses my love forAmerica far better than I have thus far ever been able. 

A baby polar bear whose mother could not produce enough milk to feed it is being cared for at a wildlife refuge in Denmark.  If you’re allergic to cute, avoid this one at all costs.

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 Kristopherson and Morgan Freeman, is out now and I highly recommend it.


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.

National Geographic Kids Page:  If you enjoy learning about the places, people and things which make life on this planet such a unique experience?

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

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.


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 Central is absolutely the best commercial source of news, entertainment, politics and all things Irish and hyphenated Irish.

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.

The Legacy Project was originally designed as a course teaching students to make appropriate life choices personal and particular to them.  Its exercises have kids answering such questions as what they would like to learn, how would they like to make a living and what they can I do for their community.  What I found remarkable about these exercise is that so many adults these days are addressing these issues as well in order to survive hard times and stabilize in spite of them. 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.

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 andAlaska. 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.


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.

The Northstar Photo Gallery features photography ofSeattle available as postcards, computer wallpaper and workspace art.

Sponsorship ads are another way 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

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

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.


Dolphins could become weapons in the war on terror, according to several reliable sources.  If Iran follows through with its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, it is likely underwater mines will be deployed.  The US Navy is considering using mine-detecting dolphins to keep this vitalPersian Gulf sea lane open.  The American military has in the past and continues today to use various sea mammals both defensively and offensively.  The Northstar Journal would like to go on record as totally opposed to this policy.

The snowy owl is ~ in this writer’s opinion ~ one of the most awesome spectacles in all of nature.  They are the work of a divine da Vinci, who saw beauty in both form and function.  So it pleases me to learn that thousands of these magnificent white birds are being seen in greater numbers than ever before from one coast of Canadaand the United Statesto the other.  Yes, for more on this one, by all means, go here.

Animal Tracks is’s Critter Stuff.  They feature stories of every facet of the creature kingdom from the domestic to the primordial.
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


Check out this comet that apparently committed suicide by diving into the sun.  Apparently this isn’t the first time this has happened.  To understand exactly what stresses might work to make self-destruction a viable option for these celestial tumbleweeds, please 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.  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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