Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, August 14, 2015

You know, when it rained all summer and if we had a sunny day we all ran outside grateful for the sunlight.  Now it’s sunny all the time and I find it quite depressing. Give me rain, clouds, wind, give me WEATHER!

Elise Patkotak • 03:34 AM •
Thursday, August 13, 2015

Anyone who watched the Republican candidates’ debate should have come away understanding why Donald Trump is beating all of them in the polls. It’s not because he’s the craziest of the group or says the craziest things. Let’s be real, in this group that designation will be hard fought for many months to come. No, the reason Donald Trump is so high in the polls is because he is not boring while the other candidates make my brain explode with boredom.

I used to be in a high school debate club. I remember that you were expected to answer the question asked. This is something that most candidates for public office simply choose to ignore. And I am not letting the Democrats off the hook on this one either. They are no better. Because no matter what question is asked, be they Democrats or Republicans, their answer will often have absolutely nothing to do with the question.
Instead, most candidates have been told by their handlers to stay on message and stick to their talking points no matter what. Most especially, they’re warned to not be drawn into any shouting matches with their opponents because they might accidentally say something real and get in trouble. Given that the ancient definition of a debate was to have opposing sides argue for their point of view, going into a debate with the advice to NOT get into an argument with your opponent would seem to defeat the idea before you’ve even engaged.
So ask a question during the debate and the candidates will, within three sentences at most, turn it back towards a talking point they’ve had prepared for years. They will simply parrot back that talking point whether it has any relevance to the question asked or not.
Donald Trump doesn’t offer talking points in a debate because, quite frankly, he has no talking points or actual positions on most of the important issues of our time. He wings it in much the same way as he’s winging this campaign and his financial empire. He does or says what feels good to him and lets the chips fall where they may. This confuses the well-prepped candidates who have long ago forgotten how to be spontaneous, who only know how to respond in a calculated manner that has been tested in front focus groups.
Trump gets your attention because you never know what he’s going to say next and, once he’s said it, you find yourself sitting in stunned silence at what he actually said. He then keeps our attention by refusing to back down from whatever sexist, racist, idiotic statement he made. Trump not only doesn’t back down, he usually doubles down and makes it even more outrageous. Even those once considered the crazier end of the current crop of Republican candidates cannot out-crazy Trump because none of them have the nerve to not only make a spontaneous declaration but also then stick by it.
So Trump gets all the attention because he is currently the best show in town. Does anyone truly believe another set of Congressional hearings on Benghazi is in anyway capable of attracting people away from the latest Trumpism?
Hillary Clinton comes across as an automaton, totally programed from smile to speech. Her Democratic opponents are so unknown they don’t even get mentioned as candidates. Bernie Sanders is the only colorful candidate on the left and the only one who might make a Democratic debate less of a snooze fest. But I’m guessing they won’t let him play at the big boys table when the Democrats have their debates. And I’m guessing the other candidates are only in the race to give Hillary someone to oppose during a debate, because even Hillary would look silly debating herself.
American politics have become so packaged and sanitized that a doofus like Trump, who should scare any reasonable person at the idea of him as president, easily rises to the top of the pile. He brings reality to the canned sound bites that we’ve come to accept as a debate in our modern times. He says what he’s thinking and, no matter how stupid, racist or sexist that might be, it’s still better than the programmed responses from the other indistinguishable candidates.
When Trump is what’s saving us from completely losing interest in national politics, we are in serious trouble.

Elise Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It’s my bed and I get first dibs on where I sleep on it. The dogs get to fit in around me. Not the other way around!
If only they knew this…

Elise Patkotak • 03:46 AM •
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don’t you just love it when your dogs go out in the rain for that one last pee at night and then run back in and jump right on your bed to shake that rain off. Yep, you can never have enough of that wet dog smell as you’re falling asleep.

Elise Patkotak • 03:49 AM •
Monday, August 10, 2015

There are those who worship the sun. I don’t. I cheer for snowy, rainy, cloudy or otherwise not sunshiny days.
It’s how I feel and everyone needs to just get over it.

Elise Patkotak • 03:51 AM •
Sunday, August 09, 2015

Last night I sat down with a margarita and the last four Daily Shows that I’d taped. I started crying right after Jon Stewart appeared. Too many goodbyes this year. Letterman, Colbert, now Stewart. The people who made the world a little more understandable and funny are now gone and I’m left to make up my own jokes. I feel like I’ve just watched the passing of a very golden age of TV and can only hope the people taking over can be even half as good.

Elise Patkotak • 10:48 AM •
Saturday, August 08, 2015

On the one hand, Donald Trump makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, his bombastic rants were the only true moments in the Republican debates. All the other candidates took whatever question was asked them and in about two sentences were back on their boring and repetitive talking points. You could have had Siri answering for as much color and reality they put in their responses. All were calculated to hit certain words and phrases that would first up the “base”.
Sadly, the Democrats will probably be about the same since they probably won’t let Bernie Sanders debate with them.

Elise Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Thursday, August 06, 2015

When 15-year-old Jose Vasquez found himself in a plane wreck with one person dead and three others seriously injured, he used skills he learned as a Boy Scout to save their lives. And now three people have another chance at life because he knew what to do.

I’m going to guess that those three people don’t care who taught Jose how to save their lives. I bet they don’t care if his instructors were male or female, gay or straight, black, white, yellow or any shade in-between. Because the only thing that matters is that a volunteer Scout leader taught him lifesaving skills he clearly put to very good use. Emphasis here should be put on the word “volunteer”, because no one gets paid to teach boys these skills. Instructors do it either because their Scouting experience was so wonderful that they want to pass it down to another generation or because they believe in the Scout’s mission and want to be part of the proud Scouting heritage.
It should be noted that at no point does the issue of sexuality come up in this scenario because it simply has no place in the discussion. Gay instructors are no more likely to hit on the boys in their care – because they are gay, not pedophiles! – than heterosexual instructors are likely to hit on girls they teach. If this weren’t generally true, we could never allow a male teacher to instruct female students.
This is on my mind because of the recent decision by the national Boy Scout hierarchy to allow gay men to be Boy Scout leaders, a decision that has upset the Mormon Church.
I have what can only be called a love/hate relationship with the Mormon Church. On the one hand, I have watched Mormon families in this state take in foster children who had some pretty significant issues and never give up on them. No matter what the acting out, no matter how damaged, they never gave up trying to help those kids until the child was either returned to their birth family, aged out of the system or went to jail.  Foster parents are the front line soldiers in our attempt to help children born into less than ideal circumstances and the Mormon families I’ve worked with in this regard have been uniformly amazing. But then the Mormon Church threatens to stop sponsoring the Boy Scouts because the national organization has decided to allow gay people to participate and I wonder how they can reconcile that stance with their clear love of children and family.
How can the Mormon Church be so open, accepting and loving to children with such significant problems while turning their backs on boys and men who want to be part of a tradition that helps create productive, positive adults. The Mormon Church would deny this to them based simply on who they love. What can that possibly have to do with teaching boys how to tie knots?
Scouting’s national leadership has made it clear that local troops associated with churches can continue as members of the organization even if they follow their own rules when it comes to allowing gay boys and men to participate. While I understand why they might do that, I don’t understand why it’s necessary. All this does is continue to foster the stereotype of gay men as sexual predators and, even worse, as sexual predators of children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once again, homosexual and pedophile are two completely different things.
I truly believe that the more inclusive our world is, the better chance this whole planet has for surviving the next couple of hundred years. Old categories of separation fall away with each passing year. Women are in combat divisions. Men are nurses. Skin color is recognized by more and more people as just that, a color that has nothing to do with a person’s character or soul. And now the Boy Scouts have joined the 21st Century in accepting all boys and men as worthy until proven otherwise.
If only those churches that purport to carry a message of a merciful and loving god could finally understand that god doesn’t condemn the love two consenting adults share, anymore than He or She actually takes attendance on Sundays to determine who spends eternity in heaven.


Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Donald Trump is skipping the debate this week. Why am I not surprised that he’s afraid to get into a situation that will actually show how stupid and ignorant he really is?
I think we should get the names of all the people supporting Donald Trump and take their voting privileges away as being too dumb to be trusted to vote.

Elise Patkotak • 03:41 AM •
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

I will do my shift at Bird TLC and then you will find me quietly sobbing in my bedroom and begging for winter to return.
Once again, I DID NOT move to Alaska for the heat!

Elise Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Monday, August 03, 2015

It will get close to 80 degrees here today and tomorrow and mid seventies the rest of the week. I am in hell. This is not why I live in Alaska. I moved from Barrow to Anchorage specifically because this is not Fairbanks where it’s forty below all winter and 100 above all summer. I move to Anchorage where it is supposed to be damp, rainy and cool. So what the hell is it with all this sunshine? Oh god, make it be winter quickly.

Elise Patkotak • 03:25 AM •
Sunday, August 02, 2015

I can’t walk my dogs when the temps get over 72. They pant and choke the entire walk and then come back and throw up water they drank last month.  They are Alaskan dogs. They want cold!

Elise Patkotak • 02:54 PM •
Saturday, August 01, 2015

According to the transcripts from a lawsuit in which Donald Trump was deposed, aside from proving what some of us already knew about what an asshole he is, he also apparently gave us a glimpse into his version of finance. In his world, he evaluates his worth based on how he’s feeling on any given day about the world in general. So a property he valued at $80 million one year, suddenly was worth $150 milllion based on how he was feeling about it the next year. No appraisal needed. Now we know how he manages to claim he’s worth billions more than he actually is. He uses the time honored process of “feeling finances”.
I’d like to take this opportunity to officially notify the City of Anchorage that I feel my house is worth much less this year than last year so they need to adjust my property taxes based on my “feeling finances” method of gauging the value of anything. In fact, I’m feeling like it’s worth so much less, my taxes should be zero.  Please don’t even bother sending someone out here to appraise it. The appraisal is not as important as my feelings about the property.
Thanks.

Elise Patkotak • 03:18 AM •
Friday, July 31, 2015

So as I stood in the bird room getting ready to feed everyone, I saw one of my parrots casually throw his leg over the cockatoo in order to have a little afternoon delight. At the same time, my one dog, Snowy, was joyously chewing something he’d picked up under one of the bird cages. My other dog, Carm, was watching Snowy’s mouth intently and every time it opened even slightly for the chewing action, tried to stick his nose in so he could smell what was being chewed.  I quietly walked out of the room thinking that this could qualify my house as somewhat strange in some people’s eyes. I can’t say I blame them.

Elise Patkotak • 03:41 AM •
Thursday, July 30, 2015

We frequently read about countries in which people walk for days to get to a polling booth and then risk death by actually voting. We’re awed by the courage it takes to vote under those conditions. Then we go back to our lattes and forget that in this country, we have basically thrown our voting privilege away by avoiding the voting booth in droves.


It sometimes seems that the people who vote the least bitch the most. Many justify not voting by saying that no candidate pleases them completely. If they can’t have a perfect candidate, then they just won’t vote at all.
I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time I voted for someone with whom I had complete and total agreement on every issue. In an imperfect world, we sometimes have to make do with what we have and put aside the dreams of the ideal for another day. Whether you completely agree with any given candidate or not is no excuse for not voting. In fact, common sense would dictate that you get involved in the process even earlier than the day you walk into the voting booth. Common sense would seem to dictate that if you are so unhappy with your choices, you’d work to promote a choice you can truly get behind.
Americans led the way in creating a democracy thousands of years after the last successful one disappeared. But democracy only works if Americans continue to be active participants in the process. So when I about hear the idea to tie voter registration to PFD registration, I think that it’s a great first step, sad though it may be that we have to take it. Given the high rate of Alaskans registering for a PFD, this could automatically boost our voting rate significantly. And I actually think this idea should be taken a step further. I think the PFD should only go to those citizens who were eligible to vote and did in the last election.
Complete disclosure requires me to admit that I am usually happy when not many people vote because each person who sits out the exercise makes my vote count that much more.  Quite frankly, for those of use who are counted as super voters, the fewer people who vote, the stronger our voice in the outcome.
But getting back to the idea that democracy needs citizen participation to continue to function properly, maybe registering for your PFD should just be combined with voter registration. You can’t sign up for a PFD unless you also fill out a voter registration application or can provide a voter ID number. While there is obviously no guarantee that all the newly registered voters will actually cast a ballot, at least we will have removed one of the more common excuses heard for not voting.
I grew up in an immigrant neighborhood where being American was still a brand new and amazing concept for many families. Participating in America’s civic life was still considered a privilege and not one to be taken lightly.  Voting without fear, voting privately so no one could exact revenge if you voted the wrong way, just being allowed to vote at all, all this was still considered very, very special. Voting was a privilege and participation was not questioned. It was expected.
I don’t know when Americans started losing that sense of how special it was that we can vote for our leaders and not have them chosen for us by fiat or royal lineage. To most Americans, kings, queens, tyrants and autocrats seem a world away, not something that will ever touch us. But that’s a false sense of security. It we don’t nurture the lesson of civic responsibility in our children and ourselves, we may one day find ourselves wondering when elections stopped happening and permanent leaders were put in place.
If you have time to fill out a PFD form for yourself and every member of your household, then you have time to fill out a voter registration form. And if you have time to go to Costco to spend those PFD monies on the latest 99 inch TV, then you have time to step into a booth and make a mark on a piece of paper. 
Use it or lose it. It’s that simple.
Elise Patkotak • 03:02 AM •

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