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Volume 5, No. 12

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Merritt Scott Miller, Editor

Dennis William Steussy, Associate Editor

Spring in Seattle. Photo by Merritt Scott Miller

Hi again, from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Our weather people insist that it is officially spring inSeattle.  It makes me a little uneasy when they can say this from the roof garden of the television station, dressed in yellow slickers and holding umbrellas.

By whose definition is it spring in Seattle?  The ducks and Canadageese are loving it.  The resident beaver population is busy.  Denizens of lower ground are gradually moving up the ridges which ring the larger of our “urban” lakes. 

Two gray squirrels were spotted near the Burke Museumin a kayak headed for the Interstate and, according to the same unreliable source, south, toward Oregon and California.  Good luck with that one, guys.  It’s “spring” the length of the North American Pacific seaboard.

I called a meteorologist friend without political convictions and she explained to me that the key word here is “officially”.

I reminded her that while I may have been born in the woods, I did not come to town on a horse named Stupid.  She charitably pointed out that the language is constantly evolving and that those who don’t understand that are doomed to repeating themselves a lot before they get their own point.

“Officially” now is apparently not what is but what everyone wants to be.  The mayor wants it to be spring so the city can stop spending money on monsoon control.  Weather forecasters want it to be spring because when the natives become discontented, meteorologists have been known to suddenly leave town an hour of ahead of a very polite mob with a wet suit and Super Glu.

The Chamber of Commerce certainly wants it to be spring.  Monsoons in March tend to reverse years of explaining thatSeattleis not the rain capital ofNorth Americanor really even a contender.

It would be hard to find a life form within the city limits who would not like it to be spring.  And in the true tradition of Californians who moved up here during the Sixties and both reproduced and voted, the belief here is that if enough of us truly want it to be spring and believe it is spring, it will, of course, become spring.

These are the same annoying optimists who insist that if you lose your umbrella, you can always let your smile be one.  Yeah, right.  I tried it a couple of times but maybe I maybe I did it wrong.  All I got was a mouth full of wet teeth.

I am, in the final analysis, dangling from my own petard as it were.  If someone were to suggest I go to Hell, I would probably do so, just for the change of climate.

So, happy Spring fromSeattle.  Officially.


In what could be both an ironic tribute to the power of pre-industrial humans to irrevocably and irreversibly destroy entire ecosystems and a stark indictment of it, researchers have concluded that it was human predation which destroyed the giant mammals once indigenous to Australia.  This and fires deliberately set to create farm and grazing land also contributed to transforming that isolated island continent’s tropical rain forests into the great desolation of most of the continental interior.  The BBC reports.

Which American cities ~ according to IVillage ~ are the most women-friendly?  Today’s Woman reports.

The Exxon Valdez, that mega tanker whose human mishandling resulted in (then), the largest oil spill in U.S.history, has been sold for scrap.  I’d have preferred that it had been turned into a floating pier-side museum, replete with its own offshore parking.  But that would have kept it in public view and might possibly suggested to a few more consumers of same that all that fossil fuel is simply neither necessary nor worth the environment risks.  The Huffington Post reports.


A city that fuels itself?  The Tyee’s Patrick M. Condon reports.

Ottawaand Victoria continue to pay more than lip service to making amends to their First Nations for historical wrongs done to those first Canadians.  The Vancouver Sun’s Gordon Hoekstra reports.

As a mass transit commuter for nearly a quarter of a century and with my own admiration for Metro drivers in Seattle, I can definitely appreciate that B.C. Transit heroes are being honoured by a new website.  The Times Colonist’s Jeff Bell reports.


There’s a new movement on to make tenants part of the process of keeping their rents down by conserving energy.  nei.org reports.

Every good movement has benefited from celebrity endorsement, even a bicycle shop in New York Citywhich has been thriving for quite a long time without it and doesn’t appear to be changing much in spite of it.  The New York Times’ Christine Haughney reports.

And sometimes good examples start in a remote place like a grocery store in Montanawhich recycles pickle jars.  Sightline Daily’s Chris LaRoche reports.


Like many of you ~ judging from the responses we get to this column ~ I am a total fan of exploration.  This one reminds me a lot of Jules Verne’s’ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  The New York Times’ William J. Broad reports in a story headlined Rocket Plunge to Deep End of the Planet.

A little closer to the shores of the Salish Sea, the electric vehicle movement is gaining both credibility and popularity in Oregon.  The Associated Press’ Jeff Barnhard reports and our thanks to the Salem Statesman-Journal.

Well, as intelligent and creative as computers are becoming and as we are encouraging them, there’s one arena where the species which created them still reigns supreme.  So far.  The New York Times’ Steve Lohr reports in an article headlined In Crosswords, It’s Man Over Machine, for Now.


In response to these tough economic times, the “minimalist movement” has phoenixed dramatically and with impressive creativity, particularly in the world of fashion. 

As a fan of spicy foods, I found this article entitled Boost Metabolism with Spicy Foods for Weight Loss to be really validating, even though I am not body mass index challenged. . 

Well, it appears that leaving the car in the garage and taking the bus is having some really positive results both for our mental health as well as our personal economic wellbeing.  Atlanticcities.com reports in an article headlined The Odd Link Between Commute Direction and Marital Satisfaction.

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


There is a new urine test which can help identify those at high risk for prostate cancer.

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 difference should age make in a relationship?  When we use the terms “older” or “younger,” what do we really mean?  What do those years or the lack of them actually stand for?  The Mail Online’s Rachel Ragg reports.



A wild winter walk along the shores of Lake Superior

Watch a live stream of a pair of nesting Red Tail hawks at Cornel University.



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 equaling ~ if not surpassing ~ the video vignettes produced by Hallmark, Folgers Coffee and Campbell Soup.  Three I’d recommend right off the top are Concert, The Class Room and Spirit of America.

Oh America – Celtic Woman expresses their love and mine forAmerica.


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

Space Pictures

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).


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


In what has to be both a remarkable survival story in and of itself, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife this month removed the American bald eagle from the state’s endangered species list.  The federal government did so in 2007 but the ODFW wanted to wait until the 2010 census was in.  It reported 570 nesting pairs in the state, up from 65 in 1978.  OPB News’ Chris Lehman reports.

An eight-month-old kitten who crawled into the engine compartment of a van survived an 85-mile trip that included crossing California’s Golden GateBridge.  The Associated Press reports.

There’s an expression in Americawhich is a figure of speech for the highly unlikely, “when pigs fly.”  I have no idea where that expression comes from.  I’m real certain I don’t want to know either.  But I’m adopting an expression of my own to cover something I might consider but not for a while, “when cats fly.”  Having avian proclivities is undoubtedly what saved one particular feline’s life.  The Associated Press reports.

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


Like billions of other people on this planet, I love museums.  This lady I once knew ~ a psychologist by trade and a provocateur by predilection ~ told me that the kinds of museums people enjoy reveals a lot about them.  We decided I’m about as kinky as a peanut butter sandwich on white without the mustard because about as esoteric as I get is the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.  Apparently, there are more interesting people than me in Texas.  There are museums dedicated to barbed wire (not EVEN going there), Eight Track tapes and technology, bugs and cockroaches in particular, funeral history and incarceration.  I don’t want to get anybody in the Lonestar mad at me but I’m curious.  How many Alamo Staters are interested in this stuff and how much of this stuff is something you guys cooked up just to catch your share of the weird tourist trade?  Here’s what I’m talking about.

Well, that’s about it for this week.  As a final word, The Northstar Journal is supported by contributions from readers like yourselves so if you enjoyed what you read here and would like to toss a dollar or two in the pot, as it were, please go here.  And if you’d like a graphically enhanced edition emailed to you, let us know at ministrel312@aol.com

Take care, stay well and God Bless.

Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller


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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