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Thursday, 6 January 2011
Now Playing: Thank You, Mr. Kelly



Hi again from the Bastion on the Puget Sound.  Well, now that the echoes of celebration are fading, it’s time to pause for a moment of reflection.  The last decade certainly saw some dramatic changes as traditional institutions and ways of thinking crumbled behind the worst economic recession in the history of the Industrial Age.  We’ve raged against the chaos, sought to blame everyone from greedy investment bankers to the chief executives of a score of nations to global warming (or the lack thereof) to even Mercury being in permanent retrograde.  And in the end, we’ve faced the hardest truth of all.  There is no one to blame but ourselves.

And for all of that, we’ve made strides in some vital areas.  The Green Revolution is in full swing.  We’ve proven what author and Berkeley Film Quarterly editor emeritus Ernest Callenbach predicted some 40 years ago in his bestselling novel Ecotopia; that cleaning up the environment and working for a stable state and sustainable economy not only pays but predicates prosperity, albeit on a much more modest materialistic scale.

We’re learning, as well, the tragic folly of sacrificing our nations’ youth on the altars of Mars and Vulcan.  Countries which once supported incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan have pulled out and have turned to solving problems much closer to home.  We’ve seen how thin a veil the cloak of global manifest destiny truly is, particularly when it denies a nation and a people the right to evolve as they see fit, rather than as mightier and stronger nations would have them do so.  America, in particular, is learning how hypocritical it is to condemn the violation of fundamental human rights when it has more of its own people per capita in penal institutions than any nation since Germany under the Nazis or the former Soviet Union under Josef Stalin.

As a species, we have made great strides in prolonging human life and in seeking to improve the quality of that existence.  We are defining the tenets of universal health care and demanding that our elected officials stop using it as a political issue.  We are coming to understand that stress not only compromises but that it kills and not in small numbers but with the dubious grandeur and sweep of a scythe even the Reaper would envy.

Perhaps most importantly of all, we are learning what American cartoonist Walt Kelly tried to tell us in his cartoon strip Pogo.

“We have met the enemy.  And he is us.”


Thanks to a variety of economic indicators, 2011 looks to be a much better year than the several past, according to an article recently published in the New York Times.  The prediction is not for a quick or spectacular recovery but for measured and steady growth.  The prognosis is guarded but it does appear as though the worst is over.

We note, with some interest and more than a little irony, that the man I once knew as “the guru governor” is preparing to take the helm of government in Sacramento as California’s chief executive, after having served the Eureka state as its attorney general.  He’s about as close to civil aristocracy as the American West Coast has, being the son of another governor.  With the chaos that California has descended into during the last eight years of a Republican administration, we can only wish Jerry Brown the best of luck.  If anyone can pull California back from economic Armageddon, it would be Edmund G. “Pat” Brown’s boy.

We applaud the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for last week advising consumers not to use two alleged sex-enhancing drinks sold on the Internet and, reputedly, in some retail outlets.  Laboratory analyses revealed that Rock Hard Extreme and Passion Coffee contain sulfoaildenafil, which could negatively interact with prescription medications that include nitrates, lowering blood pressure to "dangerous levels." Medications containing nitrates are often prescribed for men with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Felina:  Samuel, you can take the moss out of your ears.  It is finally quiet down in the Valley again.  They appear to have survived this annual ritual involving imbibing vast quantities of a natural poison, surviving the experience and promising to improve their lives by engaging in fewer self-destructive behaviours.

Sam:    I’m going to take a shot at this and say they’ve taken off the lampshades and stopped tooting on those silly little horns, too.

Felina:  Quite so.  And they are no longer singing that song which comes from that place across the big lake where male humans sometimes dress like the female of their species and play this horrible instrument which sounds like a sheep caught in one of their barbed wire fences.

Sam:    Auld Lyne Syne, Scotland, kilts and bagpipes pretty well covers it.

Felina:  And this interesting dish made from parts of a sheep even Homer the Wolverine would not eat.  I’m reading a recipe for it and it includes minced offal.

Sam:    Yep.  Haggis and it was banned in America in 1989 because the government thought that ingredient might be dangerous to eat.  I don’t recall reading whether anyone died from it.

Felina:  Perhaps it was banned because it was disgusting?

Sam:    Felina, we’re talking about human beings here?  Not higher lifeforms.

Felina:  Ah, love of my life, quite so and point well taken.  It just seems strange to me that the national dish of a country as old as Scotland would be banned in America, where they seem to place such value on accepting everyone for who and what they are.

Sam:    It’s the difference between theory and practice, oh sun and moon of my life.  They welcome everyone, then try to turn them into this creature of one color, one faith, one party and one preference.

Felina:  As though they could improve on what the Creator made in the first place and in a universe where diversity itself is the key to all life.

Sam:    Which probably accounts why they’ve probably had a rougher time of it than even the dinosaurs.

Felina:  Who took THEMSELVES entirely too seriously and perished as a result.

Sam:    Yep, and made almost as much noise, I’m betting.  However, we digress.

Felina:  We are the Romeo and Juliet of digression.

Sam:    We are the Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of digression.

Felina:  The Tristan and Isolde of digression.

Sam:    Um, that might be flying a little high for the readership, Lass.

Felina:  Then let them grow wings and soar with the eagles.

Sam:    Aye.  As long as they do it quietly and without the stupid hats and horns.  And on that note?

Felina:  Quite so.  And on that note, gentle readers, until next time, may the Creator bless and keep you



Surviving hard times is also about taking care of one’s self.  Healthy people tend to attract others like themselves and become more pleasant to be around, thus enhancing our success in interpersonal and professional relationships.  For more on this and some easy steps to achieve a healthier you, please go here



In our ongoing war against obesity, we’d like to thank a reader in Kansas City for this link to a diet which really seems to be working for her and several she knows.  For the voyeurs among you, the name of this particular weight loss regiment is The Look Better Naked Diet.

Exercise, it turns out, isn’t just good for the cardiovascular system, but for the brain, as well, according to Gino Colombara, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association’s Southeastern Virginia Chapter.  He lists seven examples and what I found cool is that chances are, most of us are already doing one of them.  Yep, for more, please go here.


In dedication to:

Shannon Patricia Goddard

1862 -- 2001

In what could very well be the most dramatic breakthrough yet in the early detection of cancer, researchers and Johnson & Johnson jointly announced Monday that they’ve come up with a test that can detect a single cancer cell among a billion healthy ones.  They’re calling it a “liquid biopsy” and four major cancer centers are going to start using it this year.  Yep, for more on this one, go here.  And Shannon, wherever you are up there in Heaven, I know you’re smiling about this one.


Cancer Research Journal

National Cancer Institute (American)

Fighting Breast Cancer: Breast Cancer Survivor Stories

Science Daily:  Health & Medicine News

American Cancer Statistics 2009

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009




One of our favorite people in the whole world just won Glamour magazine’s Readers Choice Woman of the Year AwardKendall Ciesemier was just a freshman in high school when she saw a television special about the plight of children in Africa and decided to do something about it.  Kids Caring 4 Kids is now a national organization which has already built several schools there and in so many other ways, contributed to the quality of life of African youth.


Those of you on the Delmarva Peninsula and in the greater Baltimore area who have a particular fondness for German Shepherds and people who rescue them and find good homes for them will love visiting this website.  We’ve heard some outstanding things about the All Shepherd Rescue, both from other professional animal care givers and from several who have adopted one of these dogs.  This is also an example that can be emulated elsewhere.  Nice going folks and thank you, Dalluver, for tipping us off to this one.



Finding Rootedness is perhaps the most empowering blog we’ve yet come across for those of us who are pledged to a work which improves with the subscription to and application of positive and empowering alternatives.  This one is for the window pushers among us.  It offers not only solid alternatives to the chaos but news of where these options are being successfully implemented.

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.

Meade Fisher Observes Humanity From A Safe Distance is a blog authored by an outdoor writer, photographer, West Coast kayaker and environmentalist living in the San Francisco Bay area.  These short, humorous, few holds barred observations on the machinations of the human species run from the whimsical to the arid and occasionally to the quietly outraged.  I’ve been a fan of this particular writer for years and I’ve always found him worth the read.

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 in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State.

The Northstar Gallery features photography of Seattle 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


Yes magazine is the online Life and Look of the Internet combined and their present series “What Happy Families Know is both insightful and inspirational.



He’s been called “the freshwater Jacques Yves Cousteau” after the oceanographer and filmmaker whose undersea explorations and films and television specials about the saltwater web of life brought a new “creature consciousness” to the entire planet.  Jeremy Monroe is well on his way to doing the same thing for fresh water ecology.  To learn more about this extraordinary individual, please go here.


Recommended Related Links:

National Wildlife Magazine

Go Northwest:  Northwest Wildlife Websites

BBC’s wildlife finder

National Geographic Daily News - Animals

Retrieverman’s Weblog:  Engaging articles on domestic & wildlife in the American South


There’s a small town in Arkansas that has some very weird energy.  On New Year’s Eve, some 5,000 redwing blackbirds dropped from the sky, victims of an as yet undetermined event or phenomenon which caused traumatic internal injuries to the creatures.  Earlier last month, in another part of the same state, some 85,000 fish died in the Arkansas River near Ozark.  And on Monday, in neighboring New Roads, Louisiana, some 500 starlings and grackles were found dead.  Scientists remain baffled and have, as yet, to establish a common denominator in these three admittedly strange events.

Well, that’s it for this week.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next,


And if you’re in a shopping mood and into some interesting choices?  We’ve got a “reader stocked” General Store that you might want to check out.  We’ve stocked a bit of everything from camping gear and cookware, specialty food items, books, music, films and fun/interesting/weird things that just somehow found their way onto the shelves at night when we were asleep

Posted by minstrel312 at 11:27 PM EST

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