Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, May 25, 2015

The saddest thing about this Memorial Day for me is that so many of the young generation have been maimed and hurt in a war in Iraq that was as unnecessary as the one in Viet Nam. Will we never learn? When the drums of patriotism are beat, will we always just cave in for fear of being seen as unAmerican, even when we know in our hearts that the war is wrong? So many wounded and damaged. So much money for war. So little money to heal those we send off to war.
I salute our veterans for doing their jobs as best they could. I point a finger of shame at the old men who sent them across the world to be blown up for no good reason.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Sunday, May 24, 2015

That lingering smell of vomit under the dinner table from your dog’s foray into god knows what in the back yard just as people are coming over for a meal.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 04:43 PM •
Saturday, May 23, 2015

I’m in my office working away when I hear sounds that indicate one of my dogs is choking to death. So I go into SuperMomma mode, jump up from my desk and run upstairs. There I find Carm with his newest toy (thanks Auntie Sonya) stuffed so firmly in his mouth that it is blocking his nose and he can’t breathe. But because Snowy is sitting right in front of him waiting for the toy to drop, Carm would clearly rather suffocate than give it up. I would have taken a picture had I not been laughing so hard. I grabbed the toy out of his mouth as he looked to be about to pass out and pointed out to him and Snowy that Auntie Sonya had sent EACH of them a toy and they didn’t have to compete for the one. They were totally unimpressed. The only toy worth having is clearly the toy the other dog has.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Friday, May 22, 2015
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They say people and their pets eventually start to look alike. Well, this isn’t exactly a pet but it seems to me that perhaps Katie needs to take a short break as she is having a sympathetic tongue reaction to the eagle’s tongue. And that says “Take a break” to me.
The eagle is one of the many we are caring for at Bird TLC here in Anchorage. The bird is getting ready to be placed in an education program. And no, the eagle’s tongue doesn’t usually stick out like that. Katie’s maybe, but not the eagle.
Thanks to Phil Quinn of Light’n Up Inc (333-0879) for being both a great volunteer, a wonderful electrician and someone who knows a great picture to take when he sees it.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:28 AM •
Thursday, May 21, 2015

It must have been the dental surgery I had last week. That can be the only reason I missed my legislators coming to my door to find out what I really think about the work they did this session. They did come around, didn’t they? Isn’t that the reason they gave for their little two-week working vacation? So did anyone have a Republican legislator come knocking on their door to see how they felt about budget cuts? And remember, if you were one of those foolish people who thought the legislature existed in the 21st Century and so used e-mail, Twitter and telephones to express your feelings, you don’t count. 

Every once in a while I think that politicians cannot disappoint me any more than they already have. Then the Republicans in the Alaska Legislature prove that there is no bottom they can’t sink below. It’s as though we’ve reached a point where Republicans legislators in this state feel so sure that they can’t be beaten by anyone that they can pretty much extend their middle finger to the voters and do whatever they please. And what apparently pleases them is to fund their buddies at places like KABATA rather than funding our children’s schools. So it should be pretty obvious to us at this point that the people we’ve placed in charge of the people’s business don’t really give a damn what the people think.
The question we need to ask is will anyone remember this sad debacle of a legislative session when the next election cycle occurs. Or will everyone put on those rose-colored glasses and figure it was the other guy’s representative who screwed up everything while their legislator tried his best. Because that seems to be how we operate anymore when it comes to voting. We are simply too lazy to change legislators. Better to believe that we elected the good one and the people in the next district elected the idiot.
The good news, of course, is that our legislators got to enjoy their new digs in downtown Anchorage for a few weeks.  Going from the old capitol building in Juneau to the Taj Mahawker must have felt like a real step up for them. Glass everywhere they looked. Trashcans that cost more than my monthly rent in NYC did.  All the amenities you could want with the extra-added perk of no public parking. Shrewd move. Way to cut down on pesky constituents who might want to stop by and let you know how they feel. I guess our legislators aren’t complete idiots.
So what’s the next step? They say they’ve sent the governor a budget. He says the budget they sent has no money to pay for it and that makes it not a proper budget. They say he should sign it and then they’ll fix it. Hmmm. Kind of like if I booked a round the world trip and decided to look for the money after I’d already locked myself into paying for it.
Exactly what do we really have to show for the special session our legislature was supposedly in?  Aside from their obviously well earned and needed vacation, what do they have to show for the public money they took as state workers? Not a funded and completed budget. Not passage of a simple law that would provide protection for children. Not keeping their greedy paws off the education fund they just recently created to give our schools some security. Not giving poor Alaskans a break by expanding medical care. After all, legislators have coverage. Why should they give a damn if you don’t?
So in conclusion, they managed to accomplish pretty much not a darn thing. They would have, you understand, if they’d known what their constituents wanted. But they didn’t have a clue. And those darn Democrats screwed up what progress they could have made by actually demanding that something be done for the regular people of Alaska and not just the Republicans’ wealthy backers. These brave Republican legislators found a way to keep subsidizing programs that make their rich buddies richer while keeping the masses in their place. They found it apparently in their willingness to let the government run out of money so that it may have to shut down. I guess that’s one way to cut the budget.
Makes you proud to be an Alaskan, doesn’t it?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:29 AM •
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Congratulations. Welcome to the reality in which most of us have lived for the past 12 years or so.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:30 AM •
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Got the bill from my dental surgeon for implant surgery I had. Found a $450 senior discount on the bill. I guess growing old does bring some perks. If you live in Alaska, his name is Eric Nordstrom and he’s actually a pretty amazing dental surgeon on top of being nice to the elderly. What more could you want?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Monday, May 18, 2015

Leonard Pitt’s column about the guy trying to crowd source $30,000 for his health care is a must read. The guy is a Republican who refused to get Obamacare because he could pay for himself and didn’t need no stinking government welfare. Well, he got sick. Used up all his savings. Couldn’t work. And apparently health care providers don’t take bootstraps as pay. He then tried to get Obamacare but enrollment was closed. He wasn’t eligible for Medicaid because he lives in one of those states where a Republican governor refused Medicaid expansion money. So, as Leonard Pitts so wisely asked, do Republicans really think that GoFundMe is a better way to deal with health care costs than Obamacare?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:32 AM •
Sunday, May 17, 2015

Come join me and Cache Crow Kodi at the Alaska Zoo today for International Migratory Bird Day. Bird TLC will have birds there all day. Eagles and owls and crows, oh my!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:21 AM •
Saturday, May 16, 2015

I awoke today to no pain in the surgical site and no need to take pain meds so I am back to being functional… ok, maybe functional is too high to grasp but at least I’m not sitting in a chair drooling while watching BB reruns. That has to count for something.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 10:19 AM •
Friday, May 15, 2015
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So I get an e-mail from Judy that Ed Norton from the old Honeymooners Show (think early 1950s Jackie Gleason) will be at her casino/hotel in Atlantic City to sign autographs. I respond with a shocked expression of surprise. I thought for sure the guy was dead by now. And if he wasn’t, he had to be almost 100. She happily replied that yes, he was probably about 97. Then I thought about it a little more. But before I could e-mail her back that Ed Norton was the name of Art Carney’s character on the show and not an actual person, she sent a correction e-mail out to let us all know that she meant Edward Norton, the actor.
She was so damn close I almost want to give this one to her.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Etok, Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., was definitely one of the most colorful people it has been my privilege to know. He was amazing in many ways, and in just as many ways could make friendship a challenge. He was who he was and made no apologies for that.

Etok managed to keep his passion for his people alive through more decades than any of us thought we’d survive. When I first met him in Barrow in the early seventies, I knew nothing really about the struggle for land claims or the indigenous rights of Alaska Natives. I had been seduced there by an ad in the back of the American Journal of Nursing recruiting nurses for an adventure in a “remote Alaskan village”.  My knowledge of Alaska came from 4th grade geography as taught in the 1950s. My knowledge of Eskimos was slightly less informed.
My first night in Barrow, I was invited to a welcome party at the apartment of the IHS physician. One of the memories I have of that night was of a very young Oliver Leavitt leaning against the doorway to the kitchen telling me all about the formation of something called the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and how it was going to be a game changer on the Slope. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Then, not very long after that, I met Etok. I got a master lesson in what Oliver had been saying. Getting it from Etok’s point of view, of course, meant I got a slightly different perspective than that promulgated by the majority of people involved in the land claims settlement. It was a perspective that Etok would spend a lifetime fighting for.
I got to know Etok personally over many a long night of pinochle games with an ever-present pot of coffee simmering on the stove. Etok had an alcohol problem that he, like so many of his contemporaries, battled his whole life. Along with his devotion to the fight for his vision of the future of the Inupiaq, this was the struggle in which he constantly engaged, sometimes more successfully than others. And one summer, while he fought to keep his sobriety, we got into a pattern of late night pinochle games with a couple of friends. The more coffee he drank, the more awake he got and so the games would go on all night. For those of us who had to go to work the next day, these all-nighters could be deadly were it not for listening to Etok explain the world through his perspective. It was always a fascinating take on the issues closest to his heart.
In later years, when I was working at the borough’s Public Information Office, Etok would arrive around the same time as the ASRC annual meeting. He’d wander into my office and tell me he needed the copier. I knew better than to try to tell Etok that anything on the North Slope was off limits to him. This was his land, his government and his corporation. About two thousand copies later, he’d leave and head off to the annual meeting to be the gadfly that wouldn’t stop buzzing.
While the rest of us grew old and to some degree lost the fire in our belly that we’d once had as rebellious youth, the fire never went out in Etok’s heart or soul. He never stopped believing. While Oliver Leavitt started wearing suits and graying at the temple, while Jake Adams and other Inupiat leaders were steering ASRC towards becoming the most successful Native corporation in the state, Etok was holding on to the ideals that first caused him to fight for his people. Those ideals didn’t always, if ever, jive with the thinking of the Native leadership on the Slope. But that just seemed to stoke his fire even more.
Years passed and yet, when I spoke with Etok, it was as though they faded away and I was a young rebel in the sixties all over again. I loved him for bringing that feeling out in me, for reminding me of those times and how amazing it was to feel something so passionately and fight for something no matter what the odds.
I have no doubt that Etok is right now in heaven organizing the angels and explaining to them their indigenous rights. Heaven will never be the same.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 12:35 AM •
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

They’re supposed to be in special session yet nothing but silence emanates from their offices. I guess I shouldn’t expect much more than silence given that their collective IQ doesn’t come up as far as Forrest Gump’s. And if you delete the Democrats and only total the IQ of the Republicans, it’s downright scary how low the number is. Maybe the need a guardian appointed to help them the way we do for people with special needs. Or is that just insulting to people with special needs?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I remember watching the last Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and thinking that no one would ever be able to take his place. Then David Letterman stepped up and blew me away. Now he’s leaving. The good news is that Stephen Colbert is taking over so I know my heart will not be broken for long.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:47 AM •
Monday, May 11, 2015

Have you seen the idiots running for the other party? What choice would I have? 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:46 AM •

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