Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Surely there is one slot machine in this whole damn city that will at least give me the illusion of winning before taking all my money. Surely…

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I love Vegas. I hate heat. It is hot in Vegas this week. Not hot by Vegas standards but sure in hell hot by Alaska standards. I may never go outside this whole week. I’m so glad so many of these casinos are connected so I never have to breathe fresh air. Fresh hot air is no fun at all.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:38 AM •
Monday, March 30, 2015

Off for my girls’ annual week in Vegas. Going during Holy Week and Passover guarantees cheap rooms and lots of seats at the penny slots. Yea for agnostics and atheists! 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Sunday, March 29, 2015

He could make that thing on his head vice president and we’d save an entire salary.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let the panic about leaving my animals with a new sitter begin now!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 10:44 AM •
Friday, March 27, 2015

Remember when the crazies were the fringe candidates and not mainstream. Ah memories…

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:43 AM •
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Despite getting every immunization known to man and recommended for people of a certain age, I came down with a nasty bug and spent most of last week rewriting my will and deciding that life was not worth living if it included feeling so awful. Then I woke up one day and decided that maybe I did want to live. That morning the world seemed sunny and bright. That feeling of euphoria lasted right up until I saw the paper and read that the Republican Senate had released its proposed federal budget. Part of the spending package they proposed included defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Look, I understand about being a bit annoyed when something happens that you don’t like or are opposed to. After all, I lived through the seventies. I also understand trying to change things when possible. But the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Based on that definition, the Republicans putting forward this budget are completely nuts. If you or I told our boss that the plan we were handing in for the new year contained the exact same objectionable line that sank it last year, our boss would want to know what she was paying us for and what we’d done with all our time. If nothing else had changed in the course of the year to make the outcome different, why were we wasting her time?
This is exactly what we should be saying to the Republicans in the Senate. Whether they approve or not, Barack Obama is still president and still has veto power. Whether they approve or not, they still do not have a veto override majority in the Senate. So whether or not they like it, Obama will veto any bill that comes to him with the intent of defunding his signature health care law and they will not be able to override that veto – which means the whole bloody mess will have been in vain. We will be back at square one with nothing to show for it except some video clips for Republicans to use when running for re-election to prove to their Tea Party brethren they tried.
As their titular bosses, we should be outraged at this waste of taxpayers’ time and money on a useless exercise they knew way in advance would go nowhere. Aside from making brownie points with their ultra conservative base, they have done nothing productive towards creating a sustainable budget that keeps our economy growing while reducing the national debt.
And please, I an not an idiot. Balancing the budget based on revenues expected to be received through the very law they are trying to kill is the kind of math I used to do in 3rd grade when I still didn’t understand how math worked. Or did you miss that line in the budget? Yep, in one section of the document they defund the Affordable Care Act while a few pages later, they use the projected revenue from that law to balance their budget. They are also trying to end run budget constraints on the military by dumping money in a separate account for war that won’t raise the legally mandated ceiling on military spending. Sister Gaetano would keep them all after school for a basic math refresher course plus a few words about ethics and their place in our modern system of government.
Maybe I simply have less patience than I did a week ago. Maybe being sick has warped my normally sunny disposition. But I am sick and tired of the posturing in front of the cameras that passes for governing in today’s DC. It doesn’t matter if something makes sense or is critical to our future. If we can play it for the crowds back home so that it helps us get re-elected, than nothing else matters.
Republicans spend a lot of time demonizing government employees as lazy workers sucking off the tit of government while waiting to retire with some very sweet benefits after a career of nothingness. Sounds to me like the perfect definition of a group of senators who propose useless legislation that is nothing more than a big waste of time. I guess the reason Republicans are so good at their definition of government employees is because the definition is so familiar to them. They are defining themselves.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:34 AM •
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Battle Creek

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:31 AM •
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Iditarod musher Allie Zirkle agreed to take on California lawyer Grace Jiu in an arm wrestling contest in Nome shortly after completing this year’s race. It took very few seconds for her to accidentally break Jiu’s arm. But guess what? Defying all odds and expectations… especially given that a lawyer was involved… no one is suing anyone over this incident. No one is bad mouthing anyone. No one is, in effect, acting like a spoiled brat whose parents have told her that the world owes her everything. Nope. What we have here are two decent adults treating each other decently. It was an accident. Imagine. An accident. I didn’t think anything so simple existed in today’s world where stubbing your toe outside a building gives you cause to sue the building for toe trauma.
Way to go, ladies. Keeping it classy!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:27 AM •
Monday, March 23, 2015
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •
Sunday, March 22, 2015
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Ever since BuddaBubba crossed the Rainbow Bridge he’s been even more anxious about me not leaving him. Usually he loves doggie day care and runs to the back room the minute I bring him in to the facility. But since BB left us, he moves more slowly down the hallway and continually looks back at me as though he’s afraid I’m going to leave him there forever. I guess there is no cure but to bring him there and pick him up often enough for him to again believe he is in his forever home and I will never leave him anywhere without coming back.

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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Saturday, March 21, 2015

I think anyone who gives a pet of any kind a home and love is a special person. But dog people are even a cut above that. They are simply wonderful. And when you lose your canine friend, they wrap you in such fierce love and understanding that it helps the pain subside more quickly than you could have possibly imagined. Thank you to everyone who let me know they understood how much of a loss it is when that sweet face is no longer in your life.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:54 AM •
Friday, March 20, 2015

Is there anything more fun than watching one of your dogs chew on and swallow a treat he really doesn’t like just so his housemate can’t have it? The reluctance with which he is chewing is hysterical. But for so long as his buddy is sitting next to him watching every bite, he’s not giving it up. He will eat it no matter how much it makes him want to gag. Because it’s his and the other guy isn’t getting any of it. And it is this mentality that has led the male of our species to start just about every war in history.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 02:38 AM •
Thursday, March 19, 2015

As the budget process unfolds in Juneau, all my expectations are being met. Every cut proposed produces an interest group that opposes the cut. Meanwhile, the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, felt it was so important that it could only cut less than 2% from its own budget while subjecting other departments to much deeper cuts. So pretty much business as usual.

One legislator tried to gut public broadcasting. That’s such an annual routine at this point I would almost miss it if it didn’t happen. And as usual, the cries heard from all over the state resulted in at least most of the money being restored. Given that public broadcasting is still the way many legislators communicate with their constituents, this was a smart, if somewhat still self-serving, move. Programs aimed at the most horrible and pervasive problems in this state – domestic abuse and sexual violence – were also substantially cut despite the cries from providers who are sinking under the weight of the trauma with which they must deal on a daily basis.
I predicted at the beginning of this legislative session that Alaskans would not respond well to budget cuts and that, in fact, Alaska Airlines would reap a record profit from all the people heading to Juneau to try and prevent the worse of those cuts to programs they supported. And so it has come to pass. What hasn’t come to pass is any hue and cry to raise revenues for these programs by instituting a state income tax. If I understand the thinking that goes into this attitude, it runs something like this: So long as the oil companies are paying for these programs and it’s not coming out of my pocket, go for it – but if I have to pay anything towards them, then they aren’t needed.
Taxes have never been a popular part of government. You can probably go back to ancient Greece and find some writing on stone tablets bitching about the amount of taxes someone had to pay. Alaskans used to pay a state income tax. But the minute oil money started rolling in, we canceled that and have lived royally off of revenues from our main non-renewable resource. As best I can tell, our current fiscal plan is to pray to any god we can find that oil prices go back up.
I get no more joy out of paying taxes than anyone else. In a perfect world, I’d get to keep every cent I made. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where government and the services it provides are critical to our way of life. Whether it’s fixing bridges, educating children or providing funds for a warm place to sleep for the homeless, we need what government does. No amount of private non-profit charities, religious institutions or individual effort can give these services to us to the same extent that government does. Some needs simply require the reach of government to be successfully addressed.
So what’s wrong with us as Alaskans that we feel we are entitled to these services but should not be asked to pay for them? I’m not exactly an apologist for the oil companies – on a good day their bank balance is probably a tad larger than mine – but I do wonder how we reached the point where we feel they should pay for all our needs and we shouldn’t have to participate in the process at all. If these programs, from public broadcasting to safe homes to plowed roads to working traffic lights, are so important that we lobby to keep them alive as state finances tank, then why aren’t they important enough for us to chip into the pot that pays for them?
I was in Alaska before the pipeline when we had a state income tax. That tax provided such a small base that Alaska truly was a frontier with few government services available. After the pipeline, the state income tax went away, oil revenues exploded, services soared and we became used to living more like a first world country than a third world country. If we want that to continue, and praying that oil prices rise high enough quickly enough to save us doesn’t work as a fiscal plan, maybe we should consider that we might have to pay a little out of our own pockets.
Scary thought, right?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:05 AM •
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Please go to Birdtlc.net and buy your tickets for our annual fundraiser. It’s on April 11 at the Sheraton here in Anchorage and we will have loads and loads of our education birds there for you to meet. Kodi the Cache Crow will delight you with his ability to take your money while still looking his beak down at you as though you are a lesser being. What more could you possible want? There will be food, liquor, a live and silent auction and wonderful volunteers to meet who give their time, energy and love to these birds on a daily basis. What more could you want for your money?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:07 AM •

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