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Volume 5, No. 10
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea. Well, I don’t know how it is in your house but in mine, March is a month which has more historical and personal holidays than almost the rest of the year put together.
From February 23 – March 6, 1836, some 150 men who wanted to live free in Texas made their stand in an abandoned mission and held off the finest standing army in the Western Hemisphere in the process. Texas Republic president Sam Houston wondered whether they would be remembered. We suspect they certainly have been. How could anyone who has heard their story ever forget the Alamo?
No, I’ve never been to Texas but I went through Navy Boot Camp in San Diego, California with 58 natives of that former republic. I was a Californian myself back then and among three in our training company of 60, so it was interesting, to say the least. I also served with several Texans in combat operations where what really made the difference was courage, love of family and community, and the kind of patriotism we don’t seem to see much in this country these days because it cuts across all party lines.
They proved to me and to the rest of America back then that the spirit of the Alamo was very much alive. The sacrifices Texas men and women have made in this latest generation of American wars very strongly suggests to me ~ and I hope to the rest of this nation ~ that it remains so.
So yes, General of the Army of Texas and President of the Republic Mr. Houston, the Alamo is remembered in my house. The flat fact is I owe some of you “Texicans” my life.
Today, Sunday, March 11, is the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan, breaching a nuclear reactor and creating a mass of flotsam the size of the American state of Texas and slightly larger than the Ukraine.
It was a tragedy of epic proportion and in its wake, a great deal of criticism is likely to fall on the Japanese government. At a time when every elected and appointed official in that country is searching their soul both to understand what ~ if anything ~ they could have done to better prepare for such a disaster and what they can do in the future, I hope the rest of the international community will be circumspect and put themselves on the shores of that island nation when such a disaster strikes. For many nations, I suspect, that will not be a difficult leap.
I grew up with Japanese people and I have visited and stayed in Japan on several occasions. I am somewhat familiar with their history and I have good friends from that country now. I also live in a community ~ Seattle, Washington ~ with an estimated 28,000 people who trace their ancestry to that nation.
Before I moved to a more rural part of this city, I resided in a rooming house near the University of Washington, whose student body is comprised of a significant number of students from Japan. And among the small parks which proliferate this community, there is a statue of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who survived Hiroshima and died of radiation poisoning making origami doves for peace. I have been to that park often.
It has been my experience, then, that the Japanese are a proud people and a resilient one. And in this particular instance, they have far more to teach us than they have to learn from us. I hope we do not make it difficult for them to do so.
March 17 is, of course, Saint Patrick’s Day. In America alone, there are 43-million people who can trace their line back to that island nation. I’m proud to say that I am ~ in part ~ one of them. My observance of this holiday will be muted this year out of respect for a deeply troubled country which finds itself yet again experiencing an economic diaspora. I am grateful that countries like Australia, Canada and the United States are actively recruiting Irish workers. To that extent, it will be different than it was during the Famine and lesser episodes of enforced exodus.
This St. Patrick’s Day, then, I am raising a silent pint to a proud and stubborn land that has contributed so much and at such incredible sacrifice. I know in my McGuire heart that Ireland will survive. I cannot help but wonder, however and with a sadness too deep and profound for words, how many more tears must be shed before it can truly, finally and irrevocably be said of Ireland that more than her rivers run free.
And since we’re pretty much a homespun and “mom and pop” operation here at The Northstar Journal, St. Patrick’s Day is also what seems like the 8-millionth wedding anniversary of my best friend of 30 years and this publication’s associate editor, Dennis William Steussy. He and his lovely wife Cyndee live a suburb of Seattle, where they’re active members of the community. Denny’s from a farm in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and Cyndee is from good stock in Oregon. They have two grown daughters, both of whom are doing very well.
No more than any of the rest of us, have the Steussys been immune to this Recession. They are extremely circumspect in this regard and I do not intend to violate their privacy. No more than to the rest of us has adversity and loss been a stranger to them. They are not perfect and despite Cyndee’s passion for a clean kitchen floor, Denny still sometimes tracks mud in the house.
They are as much the spirit of The Northstar Journal as each of you now reading these words. We would not be here without them. And we would certainly not be here without you.
We would also this month not be celebrating our sixth annual anniversary as a weekly publication and our ninth year as an international ezine.
IN OTHER NEWS
As we reported earlier, there is a Texas-size mass of flotsam from last year’s March 11 tsunami in Japan headed east. It is expected to wash through the Hawaiian Islands and the Alaskan mainland later this year and to make landfall on the American west coast next year. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell recently joined a growing list of officials and private citizens in questioning whether the federal government is doing all it can to help those in affected areas prepare for it. Over 200,000 buildings were washed out to see, along with some 50,000 bodies that were never recovered. A United States Navy spokesman serving aboard a vessel which is tracking this said he had never seen anything like this in his life.
Job growth in the United States has increased for the third consecutive month. Some 227,000 jobs were added to the economy and the unemployment rate remains steady at 8.3 percent.
If you impersonate someone online in Washington State ~ whether it’s for a humiliation campaign or to defraud ~ you’re going to be prosecuted and very likely go to jail. That was the word from Olympia when our governor (and former attorney general) signed the online impersonation bill into law this past week.
There’s another tragedy of epic proportions about to befall the nation with the next 40 years. With the onslaught of global warming, many outdoor hockey rinks will disappear, along with the seasonal frozen ponds and creeks which are kind of like training wheels for going out on deliberate ice for that mayhem on skates which has become so part of our national identity. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
Sometimes it honestly seems like Vancouver is in this weird psychic contest to come up with the best ways to make bicycling the predominant mode of urban transportation. It reminds me of what it must have been like when automobiles first started giving horses cardiac arrest. It also ended up being a good economic move and in a part of Canada which has proven the viability of the small business mode, the Musette Café is proving to be another idea whose time has clearly come. The Toronto Globe and Mail’s Carrie Swiggum reports.
“One farm, one school,” could well become motto of Canada’s Grow Local/Buy Local movement. At present, only about five percent of the food used in the nation’s public schools ~ for instance ~ is grown within 150 kilometers, according to the Public Health Association of Canada. That is changing. The Vancouver Sun’s Randy Shore reports.
It is said that out of its own ashes, the Phoenix bird was reborn. For an unforgettable story of compassion amidst chaos, please go here.
My adopted hometown of Seattle has reached a new zenith in urban wildlife habitat restoration. There are several active beaver ponds within a short walk of a major transportation and mercantile hub in a neighborhood known as Northgate. With still photos and video, Crosscut magazine’s Martha Baskin reports.
As part of its ongoing campaign to end hunger in Seattle, that city’s government is donating a total of seven acres to what is being called “a food forest with an urban view.” They will be planting local food crop trees and bushes which the public at large can harvest just as if this nutritional flora grew right in the own backyards. Our research suggests that a family of four can be fed for a year on two acres so this is clearly not intended to end hunger on the shores of the Salish Sea. That’s not how the City of Seattle works anyway. They tend to establish an integrated matrix of partial solutions. If that sounds familiar, yes, it is the holistic approach to problem solving mode. For more on this one, please go here.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE & EXPLORATION
Later this year, aquanaut James Cameron will be descending 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana’s Trench. This will be the deepest solo dive a living human being has ever made. See also James Cameron Headed to Ocean’s Deepest Point Within Weeks
Human beings are a lot closer, genetically, to gorillas than previously thought. When one considers the chest beaters and knuckle draggers among us, that would appear to explain a great deal.
Oxygen has been discovered on the surface one of Saturn’s moons. Though not enough to sustain life as we know it, it proves Dione’s atmosphere will hold oxygen which might be created by artificial chemical processes or through the photosynthesis of flora transported from earth.
My wife, GRHS, was a nurse who took an avid interest in another aspect of health we don’t talk about much in this column. Joy was raised in a place where window boxes and skinny trees were about the only green in the neighborhood. Fruits and vegetables were very seasonal, invariably imported and often better tasting canned than fresh. Genetically, she rebelled against this and one of the first things she did after we moved into a small rented house with a backyard was to have the gardener replace the lawn with a garden plot. Then she planted a “crop” consisting of vegetables, fruits and herbs which acted as preventative medicine in that they made the entire body stronger and more “germ resistant,” if you will. To appreciate her enthusiasm for this and for resources to emulate, we direct you now to Cornell University.RESOURCE LINKS: Center For Disease Control Disease FAQs Index Tips and Tools For Staying Young Weight Watchers: Calculate Your Body Mass Index
ON THE CANCER FRONT
The fear of cancer kills just as surely as the disease itself when that fear prevents someone from reporting possible early symptoms to their health care provider. The BBC’s Michelle Roberts reports.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
Americans across the nation are rejecting the entire concept of political action committees and on Super Tuesday, 64 towns in Vermont passed measures pledging to support the end of them. What is to me equally significant is that they did so in town hall meetings. This is the way much of rural New England functions on a day to day basis and the direct and simple approach has worked well for them since Colonial times. Could that form be a key in streamlining and ethically sanitizing the political process? YES magazine’s Brooke Jarvis reports.
TAKE A BREAK ON NORTHSTAR
BEST OF NET VIDEO THIS WEEK
NORTHSTAR EDITOR’S NET VIDEO FAVORITES
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.
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 in San 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.
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 for America 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.
GAMES & PUZZLES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in Florida 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 in Erin ~ literally tell it like it is. While the Republic of Ireland’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 best Pacific 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.
AVAILABLE FROM NORTHSTAR
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 of Seattle 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Here are some really cool things happening in Seattle. If your community is doing or has done something of which you are very proud, email us at email@example.com with a link. MSM
Seattle’s economy is improving and one proof of that is the dramatic increase in METRO bus ridership. Passenger counts are once again as high as they were during peak employment in 2008. Other factors such as rising gas prices and the tolls on the 520 Bride were also cited as factors. One driver we spoke with said she felt it also represented the Puget Sound’s tendency to seek environmentally appropriate transportation, as long as those alternatives are cost effective or within reason. In short, it is cheaper to take a bus than it is to drive. See related: How Much Your Car Really Costs You and The Quality of Your Living
In what might well be remembered as the animal escape of the New Century, an inmate of a zoo in Japan scaled a small mountain in its environment and successfully breached the walls as it were. The Humboldt penguin, a native of the waters off Chile, has been spotted swimming in a river in Tokyo, and appears to be enjoying its freedom.
Well, here’s one on which we’ve reported several times. We’ll direct you by way of a headline that made me wince slightly. Sightline Daily’s John Abbotts’ reports on Renting “Sustaina-Billies” as Public Contractors
Well, here’s one that would normally “delight” divers the world over. A new species of venomous sea snake has been discovered in waters off the northern coast of Australia in the Gulf of Carpentaria (map). The good news is that the waters in which it lives are extremely murky and the shared habitat of very large bull sharks, saltwater crocodiles, and the highly poisonous box jellyfish.RELATED LINKS: 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
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
Stealing candy from a baby is considered the lowest of low. As a pair of aspiring professional criminals in Texas found out, trying to rob two Girl Scouts selling cookies is not necessarily a real good idea either. We imagine it was really interesting explaining to the boys in Cellblock B how the victims themselves thwarted the crime.
Take care, stay well and God Bless.