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Now reaching informed readers in America, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Russia & Australia

Volume 5, No. 7

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

William Henry Harrison



Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, on Monday, February 20th, the United States celebrates President’s Day.  The name itself, however, is a bit of a misnomer.  Americans to not remember ALL their chief executives on Monday, just the two they consider the greatest and whose birthdays both fall in February.  When I was growing up, we commemorated the lives of both Abraham Lincoln, who comes first on the calendar, and George Washington, who comes second, on different days.  But then, during an earlier Recession, the national government decided to save money by combining them so they wouldn’t need to pay their own employees for two national holidays.

Both of those presidents are also on American money and while I do not find that strange, what perplexes me a bit is that here are the two allegedly greatest presidents and the only ones with a national holiday.  And yet George Washington is on the $1.00 bill andLincolnis on the penny and on the $5.00 bill.  It appears that the larger the denomination, the lesser known the president portrayed. 

I’ve struggled for years to understand the logic behind that one.  It seems to me there ought to be more William Henry Harrison half-dollars in general circulation.  And certainly some Jimmy Carter quarters.  Franklin Pierce certainly deserves to be on the penny.  Even Andrew Johnson has a place, like on the $2.00 bill.  Something really should be done about this but considering the present mood of Congress and that it is a presidential election year, my timing could probably be better on this particular proposal.

I also thought it was totally appropriate that the present chief executive, whose birthday we so far do not celebrate, flew into Seattle Friday morning.  I watched the coverage on the little screen and I was impressed.  He visited the Boeing assembly plant inEverett, just north of us.  I’ve worked at the facilities inPacifica and Plant II, near Boeing Field.  Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the immensity of the Everett location.

I am not kidding you.  This place is HUGE.  I mean, we’re talking as big as some small countries or that stretch of Heaven reserved for the same people to whom Santa annually delivers junk mail, switches and ~ until Christmas went green ~ coal.  Two thousand aircraft workers, elected officials and other dignitaries packed the place around these impossibly gigantic airplanes to see one the best “baby kissing” presidents the Yankee Doodle has ever elected.  The Man From Chicago showed them why his town is called “the windy city,” and he pulled it all off with unimpeachable sincerity. 

I was among those home viewers who made popcorn and kept a napkin on hand so I could applaud without getting my hands all buttery and salty.  It was a good performance and great theatre.  And this is not to suggest that he didn’t mean every word of it.  That’s what made it special.  I am sure he did.  And I also thought it was cool that he attended two short and tasteful fundraisers here that netted the national party and his own campaign fund about $1.5-million.  Some of those people paid more money to see him up close and personal than I make in two months.

I don’t know who I’m voting for yet this time around but as far as I’m concerned, I got just as good a ringside seat and I don’t need to worry about whether the money I spent will somehow come back to bite me on the butt.  I was also on my dinner break while he was here because my boss doesn’t give me time off from work for things like this.

Yes, I’m self-employed.


Americans’ dependence on government benefits has more than doubled since 1969.  The degree of that dependence, however, varies from region to region and from state to state.  For an interactive map and more information, please go here.

The results of research into a deadly flu virus may be made available to the general public after all.  In what appears to be a stunning reversal of appropriate self-editing and a responsible balance between the quest for knowledge and concern for public welfare, as the result of a recommendation made by an international panel of experts.  The decision was not unanimous and the United States was among those nations opposed.  See also Seeing Terror Risk, U.S. Asks Journals to Cut Flu Study Facts

Sometimes what appears to be a minor event in the history of technology turns out to have major ramifications not only for the designers but the consumers, as well.  Last week, President Barack Obama officially authorized the presence of both military and non-military drone aircraft in American airspace.  For an outstanding video experience of what some of them are already doing there, please go here.


Within the next decade, one of Vancouver’s bedroom communities will probably be the province’s largest metropolis and one of the largest in the nation.  It appearsSurrey has come of age.

A Mohawk woman buried in Quebec will become the first aboriginal saint when she and six others are canonized by Pope Benedict at the Vatican in October

City dwellers in Vancouver’s Eastside are finding that affordable housing is still possible as long as you’re willing to downsize.  Thirty units ranging from 226 to 291 square feet (20 – 27 square meters) are going for an average of $850.00 a month, including utilities.  InSeattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, I pay $430 a month for a room that size, in a house with a shared kitchen and bathroom, and that includes utilities, as well.


Someone sure raised this one right.  A Canadian boy told his mom that he did not want presents for this birthday this year, but for the money that would have been spent on them to go to helping the lad’s best friend, who was hurt pretty bad in a motor vehicle accident.  If Tristan Glassier is representative of his generation ~ and I strongly suspect that he is ~ an entire nation is facing a strong and secure future.

Are you a psychic vampire or a benevolent leader of the pack?  To find out, please go here.

As more Baby Boomers move into the second and third scenes of their fourth act, aging with dignity by proving that seniors have just as much to offer, but just in different ways is going to be very important.  For an example of how they do that in the Bronx borough of New York City, please go here.


Since 1957, when the former Soviet Unionsent Sputnik 1 into orbit, we’ve been slinging satellites toward the sun with such singular dedication that now we’ve created a vast belt of space junk that is so thick it is, for the first time, in danger of interfering with stuff like communications satellites (etc) and the International Space Station.  There are some pretty unique solutions to this problem evolving.  The Swiss are designing this drone that will grab an orbiting object, lock onto it, and then plunge into the earth’s atmosphere, pretty well atomizing itself and the dead satellite in act worthy of Faust at his best.

Imagine living in a building that is sunny, no matter which side of it you’re in.  You could also go here and see one.

The Stellar sea lion population off the North Pacific Coast of Canada has been declining for two decades now.  Fifteen years ago, Canadian marine biologists began training sea lion pups to wear tracking devices that will enable 24/7 monitoring of these creatures, their habits, environment, etc.  In our opinion, this is the kind of dedicate


I have never understood that particular of genre known as “the high heeled shoe”.  I have studied these female podiatric torture devices for some years.  When I was still an MCP (male chauvinist porcine), I liked them because it proved that the male was obviously superior if he could not only force the other gender into wearing something some painful and impractical but then turn around and make it so cool that women started fighting among themselves to see how much height they could handle.  I’m 6’3 and slim but I tried an experiment with flat shoes and blocks of wood.  After three inches, I started getting a little height-nervous.  At six inches, I reached for my ski poles.  At six inches, I also stopped with the blocks and the altitude.  The Mack Sennett approach to this notwithstanding, that’s how I came to the conclusion that deep in their genes, there’s got to be one which hates men for doing that to them and another, probably right next door in the DNA universe, that does not intend for it to ever happen again.  After reading Trade High Heels for Flats to Prevent Foot Pain I’m going to start extolling the virtues of sandals, flats, pumps, ice skates, swim fins, skis, slippers, mukluks, cowperson boots with heels shorter than one inch, etc.  I also personally believe in karma and poetic justice, both of which strongly suggest that if I do not do these things, I will probably come back as one of the most beautiful women in the world and one who looks sooo HOT in stiletto heels.  Nope, as much as that might amuse the gods, I am NOT going there.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in America, accounting for one third of the deaths.  That’s more than breast, cervical and ovarian cancer combined.  The symptoms of cardiovascular diseases are different with women than they are with men but the results are the same if left untreated.  For a quick education on this condition, its signs and the preventative measures one can take, please go here.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?  Do you wake up happy and eager to greet the day?  Or do you set the alarm ahead 15 minutes so you can don mental armor and prepare yourself to do battle with the day?  If you’re the latter but would prefer to be the former or if you’re the former but would like to be fanatically that way, try any or all of these 11 steps to a happier life.

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


Tiny DNA “robots” loaded with antibodies are the latest weapon in the battle against cancer and are proving remarkably effective.

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


Our species has a particular penchant for denying aspects of reality known to the universe and all creatures in it.  We cling to those versions which serve our vanity rather than our self-preservation.  How much more important we were when earth was the center of the universe, and safer too, considering that for the majority of the time we’ve been sentient, we’ve also considered it flat.  In more recent times, we’ve denied that all men (and women) were created equal.  We’ve insisted that one political party has all the answers (and of course it’s the one we belong to) and we’ve obviously decided that the Golden Rule does not always apply to women, children and animals.  We have become Disciples of Denial and perhaps the biggest lie we’re believing now is that global warming was invented by an American politician from the South.  Here’s a glimpse of what could happen to us if we don’t grow up, accept responsibility for and attempt to clean up a world we junked up in the first place simply because what we wanted has been more important than what is good for every other life with whom we share this little bluegreen spaceship.



The endangered snow leopard is alive, well and florishing in a natioinal park in Bhutan.


Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’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 lifesized 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.

Republican state representative breaks ranks to support Washington same sex marriage.

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.


NEW!  Backcountry Gallery is a free source of some of the best computer wallpaper and screensavers on the Net.  They come with calendars and without and are affiliated with Worldstar.com, an outstanding site for computer information and related newsletters.

Amnesty International has a long, honorable and effective history at championing the rights of human beings all over the world.  The Northstar Journal is proud to carry this link to their activities, gatherings and fundraisers in your area.

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.

Safercar.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.

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.


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 minstrel312@aol.com.

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

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.


Well, the United States government is going looking for the winter home of one of the Pacific Northwest’s orca pods.  If this item seems familiar it is because this is an annual ritual.  The government (human beings) spend money to find another life form (orcas) who do not want to be found.  My personal opinion is that they do this to keep us humble.  They do it, as well, to keep the government from spending our tax money on something REALLY dumb.

Over 2,000 dogs in 185 breeds competed in America’s premier canine show, the Westminster, in New York’s Madison Square Gardens on last week.  The top prize this year went to one of God’s smaller creatures.  This one looks like it should have a key to wind it up so it can waddle fast and bump into stuff.  I totally loved this one so yep, for more, please go here.

Animal Tracks is msnbc.com’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



An abandoned car kept San Diego, Californiapolice at bay for well over two hours last week.  Unofficial sources close to the Northstar Journal said that they were tipped this particular vehicle might be related to the legendary Christine of the Stephen King novel by the same name.  The driver of the tow truck which eventually arrived on the scene to take the vehicle in hand allegedly performed an exorcism on the rig, just to make sure.  For more and video, 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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