Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, July 28, 2014
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After annoying him for a lifetime, it’s nice to know I haven’t lost my touch. So this dog pictures is just for you, Joe. Because I know it’s what you live for.
In this lovely photo, Carm (playing the part usually assigned to my sister Judy) is trying to pull a recalcitrant Snowy (usually played by me) through the fun of an afternoon walk in the sun. Neither Snowy nor I like the sun. And once Snowy has put his butt down, Carm has no better chance of moving him than my sister does of getting me to do her Bataan Death March… which is how normal people refer to her version of a brisk walk. Did I mention that she took a dog on this walk and halfway back, he sat down and refused to go another step until his owner came to pick him up in a car. It’s like I said… the Bataan Death March.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:29 AM •
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Apparently there is some concern that Alaskan Republicans will have difficulty differentiating between the two Dan Sullivan’s running for office in the upcoming primary. Here’s a suggestion. Don’t worry. They are cut from the same cloth. One and the same. The conservative Republican Alaskan mold is stamping them out in droves. So it just really doesn’t matter. To say nothing of how insulting it is to suggest that voters won’t know the difference after being bombarded with 80 gazillion ads for the Dan running for Senate. Here’s a thought… just vote for Joe Miller and don’t worry about getting confused.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Saturday, July 26, 2014
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Where the hell are my sunglasses? Damn unreliable staff I have. You’d think they’d keep track of these things.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:24 AM •
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Even a cursory review of history reveals that prohibition is a failed policy. Whether it’s forbidding your teen from seeing the boy of her dreams or forbidding a nation to have a beer after work, the result is the same. The forbidden will somehow be accessed. All prohibition does is drive the behavior underground, thus making it that much harder to deal with the consequences.

America’s War on Drugs has been a colossal failure. Not only has it not even come close to achieving its stated goal, it has driven the issue so far underground that the only people who truly benefit from it at this point are the drug lords who live high off the tastes of America’s citizens.
While I can understand the concerns of people over the potential for abuse if pot is legalized, keeping it illegal has not made much of a difference in its availability or people’s use of it. For village leaders concerned that if pot is legalized it will make its way into their villages, trust me that it’s already there in abundance. Keeping pot a prohibited substance does not diminish its availability.
I’ve always wondered why alcohol, a proven destructive substance, has received so much support while pot is viewed as so evil. People spill out of bars on Fourth Avenue at closing time and fistfights and gunfights ensue. But no one is demanding that alcohol be banned. Instead we turn ourselves inside out trying to adjust hours of operation, defining when the last drink can be served, and putting more police presence nearby at high violence hours. We do all that to keep a substance legal that creates more family and societal destruction than pot ever has in its history.
I think one of the reasons no one is calling for a prohibition on alcohol is that we’ve already seen where that leads. It leads to exactly the same place the war on drugs has led us, a place where gangs rule with violence and make money hand over fist. Our infamous War on Drugs has created some of the most successful businesses in the world. They may be illegal and murderous but you can’t deny they are very profitable.
Here’s something else I often wonder. Why does no one look at the success of the campaign against smoking and have some light bulb go off over their head that says here may be a realistic model for discouraging use of an addictive substance. And if one successful campaign doesn’t convince you, how about the campaign against drunk driving? In both those instances, it was public and peer pressure, public embarrassment and public information that won the day, not making cigarettes or alcohol illegal.
Do we still have smokers in our midst? Sure. But they smoke surreptitiously, knowing that their habit is almost uniformly viewed in a negative light. How much has this changed since the public information campaign began? Well, when I first started nursing in the early seventies, anyone who wanted could smoke at the nurse’s station in the hospital. Imagine trying to do that now. As for drunk driving, I grew up at a time where you could kill someone driving drunk and alcohol was considered a MITIGATING factor. You were too drunk to know what you were doing so the charge was less serious, if you were charged at all.
Pot has been in Alaska a long time. It’s in every village and city. Alcohol is also in every city and village in this state, local option laws notwithstanding. I don’t know how far you have to stick your head into the sand to know that prohibition of substances people want badly enough simply doesn’t work. It was a failed policy in the twenties and it’s a failed policy now. I say let’s take this issue out of the shadows and into the light of day where people with a problem can feel free to seek help without fear of criminal penalties and people who simply want to relax on a weekend with a joint and a movie don’t have to go to an underground dealer for their stash.
Let’s dump what is obviously an overwhelmingly failed approach to pot and deal with any problems that arise in the light of day and not the darkness of prohibition.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Commercial advertisers should complain about the number of mind numbing political ads are running on our tv. Sometimes the same ad runs twice, back to back. So I have given up watching live TV completely. I’d rather read and tape the show. Then I can fast forward through all the commercials. This stops me from want to scream in agony at hearing one more time about why Dan Sullivan protects Alaska hunters or why Mark Begich is opposed to carbon tax or why… oh crap. Who gives a damn anymore? Just make the noise stop. My brain feels like it wants to take a vacation from my head and go somewhere quiet. In fact, at this point, I may not vote for either of them just because they have annoyed me more in the past few months than George Bush did in his entire eight years in office.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

He was an integral to my youth as Little Joe. Both taught me what good men were like. Both showed me the kind of man I most was attracted to. And both clarified my someone hazy understanding of boys versus girls and that I most definitely was not gay.
Now they are both gone and a little part of my childhood has died with them.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Monday, July 21, 2014
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I slept in on Saturday morning. This is what I found when I came out of my bedroom.
Guilt anyone?
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:04 AM •
Sunday, July 20, 2014

I guess Sarah Palin wouldn’t understand the enormity of the issue of impeaching a president or any given elected official since she didn’t hang around long enough as our governor for us to impeach her. And trust me, all signs indicated there would come a point where we would have.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 02:02 AM •
Saturday, July 19, 2014
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“Just look the other way and maybe he’ll go away.”
“But he’s sniffing my butt and he’s really big.”
“Just keep walking and maybe he’ll be too busy sniffing her butt to notice. Move slowly and quietly.”
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:27 AM •
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“Just look the other way and maybe he’ll go away.”
“But he’s sniffing my butt and he’s really big.”
“Just keep walking and maybe he’ll be too busy sniffing her butt to notice. Move slowly and quietly.”
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:27 AM •
Friday, July 18, 2014

Clearly illness and a hospital stay have caused me to lag on some things. The blog will be back every day after this. I promise. Or almost promise. Or maybe promise… ok, how about I just try my darndest.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 01:49 PM •
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sometimes it’s easier than we care to admit to turn our faces away from a headline about a death in jail. Subconsciously most of us believe, if only a little, that a prisoner is someone who has done something bad so the death is not really a big deal. This is probably why, given the number of deaths in the state corrections system over the past few months, there has not been a huge outcry and demand for transparency concerning them.

These deaths have run the gamut of how people die – suicide, homicide and just found dead. If any other agency, from the Alaska Psychiatric Institute to the Brother Francis Shelter, had those deaths occur while the person was in their facility, there would be a public demand for a thorough investigation of all circumstances surrounding the deaths. But these deaths happened in prison and so we all quietly avert our gaze and hope it will go away. After all, they were in jail. They must have done something wrong. So let’s not put too much time and money into this.
Sadly, the state system looking at these occurrences seems totally lacking in everything from competence to computers. Given the reasons stated in the article in Monday’s ADN article, the state Department of Corrections seems to be reveling in its incompetency and daring anyone to put up the time and resources needed to wade through the jumble of paperwork and confusion that passes for an investigation of an in-custody death. It’s as though the DOC has taken the VA as its role model.
The one point on which I agree with the DOC is that people are often incarcerated when, in fact, they should be hospitalized for mental illness. The closing of mental health institutions, combined with the lack of mental health services to support those no longer living in institutions, make our jails and prisons de facto long-term mental health facilities. Dealing with people with mental illnesses takes some very special training and understanding. It is not necessarily the kind of training and education most working in the penal system get beyond a cursory review of the topic. Thankfully, people with mental illnesses have strong advocacy groups in our community who work to help both those ill and those coping with family and friends who are ill. But their reach seems to stop at the prison door.
And what about those others, the ones who died of homicide or bleeding ulcers? Families deserve some answer about how someone is killed in a supposedly secure facility. Families deserve to know how someone has the time and access to items that allow the person to kill him or herself without being noticed by prison personnel. Families deserve an answer to how someone dies of a bleeding ulcer, a condition that is all too treatable if someone if paying the slightest bit of attention. Again I find the resounding silence from the general public on this topic astounding.
When we imprison people in this country, we do so based on a constitutional guarantee of no cruel and unusual punishment. Bleeding to death from an ulcer that could have been treated might be considered by many as cruel and unusual punishment. Being placed in a cell with someone who already tried to kill a cellmate might also be considered in this light. There might be very good reasons why this was done. There might be very good reasons why no correctional officer noticed someone dying on the floor of their cell. There might be very good answers for all these deaths. The thing is, unless the Department of Corrections acknowledges the public’s right to know and becomes more transparent in dealing with the families of those who died in its custody, we’ll never know for sure.
Some prisoners may have done horrible things. Some may have simply gotten too drunk in public. Some may be innocent and incarcerated for a crime they didn’t do and for which they will eventually be acquitted. They are all human beings. They deserve to be treated as such.
You think it will never happen to you or yours. But it can. And when it does, you’ll want answers. Just don’t expect to get them. The DOC is apparently a god unto itself. It need answer to no one.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:15 AM •
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Am I the only one who thinks watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report equates to watching real news shows as opposed to the crap that’s on most of the other channels?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:18 AM •
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Most “gun friendly” legislative bodies want to mandate that you can carry a gun anywhere you’d like… except for into the building where they work. Think they get that we might be maddest at them? Or do they simply not trust the mental stability of the people they are empowering with guns?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:16 AM •
Monday, July 14, 2014

Wonderful. Just wonderful. Rather than do any real business, let’s just act like three year olds and throw mud at each other.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •

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