Elise Sereni
Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sometimes, when a deadline looms and I’m pretty sure I will never have another idea in my life worth putting down on paper, I get up and talk to my birds till I feel better. I don’t necessarily get great ideas doing that, but it kills a few unproductive moments when I would otherwise be pounding my head on the keyboard, mentally screaming, “Think!  Damn it. Think!”

Elise Patkotak • 06:11 AM •
Friday, December 28, 2007

See How Your Work
Compares With the Best!

Have you done something at work this past year that you’re proud of?  Ever wonder how it would stack up against the best in Alaska and in the nation?  Then the Alaska Professional Communicators’ 2008 contest is for you.

Alaska Professional Communicators, formerly Alaska Press Women, is made up of both women and men in journalism, writing, broadcasting, public relations, and related fields.  For more than 30 years the organization has offered a contest in many categories of communication, with winning entries going to the national competition run by the National Federation of Press Women.
Again this year, the contest will be open to all Alaska resident communicators, not just APC members.  The contest includes 78 categories for print journalists, book authors, broadcasters, researchers, and more.  There’s a separate Collegiate Contest for undergraduate college students.
Winners get feedback from recognized experts from outside Alaska, as well as certificates and recognition from their peers.  Entry fees are low--$20 for APC members, $30 for nonmembers.
The deadline for entering most categories is Feb. 8.  Books and related categories are due Jan. 31.  Complete contest information is available at http://www.akpresswomen.org/commcontests.php

Elise Patkotak • 06:42 AM •
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Has the year really gone by this quickly? Can it already be time for my 2007 Hall of Infamy induction ceremony? For those of you new to this, my Hall of Infamy enshrines all those people, places and things that so annoy me each year that they alone are responsible for most of my wrinkles and gray hair. Since 2008 is an election year, I’m sure there will be many, many nominations for next year’s honor so it’s time to wipe the slate clean and make some executive decisions on who or what has truly earned the top honor for 2007.

As a quick reminder, Tom Cruise, Donald Trump’s hair and anything to do with reality TV have achieved the highest of honors in that they’ve been retired to a permanent place in the Hall of Infamy and are no longer eligible for nomination.  Any pseudo-celebrity who was arrested, jailed or in detox this year is not eligible for nomination either. I mean, even a Hall of Infamy needs some standards.  Consideration was given to some nominees whose racist rants made people sit up and take notice. In the end, it was decided that those people had had their moment of infamy and didn’t really deserve any more time in the limelight.
So, with a drum roll playing somewhere in your brain, I now bring you the nominees for this year’s honor. I thank all who contributed to the list. Don’t be disappointed if your favorite didn’t win this year. I’m sure he, she or it will continue to annoy you through 2008 and you can always nominate them again next year.
In the spirit of the season, the first nominee to be announced is any and all Christians who use Jesus to justify being mean, abusing others and acting morally superior. That’s what you think Jesus would do? Really?
Next nominee is any attempts to modify the English language for obfuscation purposes that usually have politics as the motivating force. It will come as no surprise that the Nixon administration created this category with press secretary Ron Ziegler’s famous line, “That statement is no longer operative.” Now the Bush administration challenges the supremacy of that remark with their comment on the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden.  It is not, they insist, a failure. It is merely “a success waiting to happen.” Quick. Get the Advil. The headache is returning.
I should probably have an entire category dedicated to the things people do while driving that so annoy me, and apparently many of you based on the sheer number of times this comes up.  People who don’t use turn signals at all are second on the list only to those who put the signal on as they turn. Hey, idiot, by that time I’ve figured it out. Also in the driving category would be people who are drinking coffee, talking on their cell phones and writing a note to themselves while steering their car with their elbows.  They may have to be retired to the permanent wing because of the overwhelming amount of annoyance they cause the rest of us who think that when driving a car you should actually drive the car.
A new nomination this year, from a field we don’t normally see mentioned, is vegetables. In particular, wet vegetables.  Why do stores now drench their vegetables all the time. It is impossible to buy baby carrots that aren’t slimy from being so wet in their bags, or that don’t get so slimy within days of purchase that they could be used in labs as Petri dishes.
But finally, when all the votes are counted - which is fairly easy since I get the only vote - this year’s winner and new inductee in the 2007 Hall of Infamy for Annoying Me Beyond Belief is the packaging on my toothbrush replacement head. It took a scissors, knife and pliers to get into the product. It had enough packaging around it to protect a space capsule during re-entry.  During this coming year, as we face the reality of global warming, polluting our environment, and my aging hands, I can only ask manufacturers to seriously consider how much plastic needs to be around toothbrush bristles before they can be considered safe.
Happy 2008. Let the new nominations begin.

Elise Patkotak • 06:12 AM •
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I will now never know what my housekeeper gave my dogs for Christmas. By the time I got back to my office, they had dragged the package off the desk and devoured whatever had once been inclosed in the wrapping that said, “For Blue and Blondie”. I hope to god it was edible.

Elise Patkotak • 06:21 AM •
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My wish for the holidays is for someone to give George Bush enough brains to figure out he’s really quite stupid and for someone to give Dick Cheney morals.

Elise Patkotak • 06:24 AM •
Monday, December 24, 2007

If you haven’t made your holiday donation to a charity yet, what are you waiting for? Do you really think God cares if you got yourself a new cell phone or video game console as much as she cares that you thought of someone else on this holiday? C’mon. all you Christians out there.  Wasn’t Jesus about giving, not getting?

Elise Patkotak • 06:20 AM •
Sunday, December 23, 2007

One of my dogs was sick on Thursday night. She might have licked up some of the fire splattered grease from the steak. She kept me up all night with her need to go out every 90 to 120 minutes.  Last night I guess I was too tired to hear her. I got up once when she barked and then fell into a very sound sleep.  Who knew she’d have the trots two nights in a row. All over my living room carpet.  And I do mean all over!
I can only assume that if I was younger, I’d have heard her and let her out. I’m simply too old to miss two nights of sleep in a row.  How the hell do mothers do this for years at a time?

Elise Patkotak • 06:17 AM •
Saturday, December 22, 2007

So in case of emergency, I am apparently genetically programmed to move slowly and deliberately. As my steak set my oven on fire last night, and smoke alarms rang all over the house, and birds started looking glassy eyed from the fumes, all I could think about was whether to use whole wheat or white flour to put it out so that the steak would still be edible. I used white flour and the steak was fine. As for my oven, I’m honestly afraid to even turn it on. I think I’ll wait until my brother the fireman comes here again and let him check it out. That should only be a couple of years.

Elise Patkotak • 06:11 AM •
Friday, December 21, 2007

I’m sitting in my office working when my conure in the next room starts screaming. Now usually Wilson is a pretty mellow bird. But he was definitely upset. So I went out thinking that one of the Senegals had annoyed him and I’d just calm him down. I jokingly said, “What’s up, Wison? Is there a moose scaring you?” Then I looked out his window and there was a moose. He was letting me know that danger was nearby.  You’ve just got to love parrots, don’t you?

Elise Patkotak • 06:19 AM •
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is it just me or does it seem to you that the only entity left with any privacy in this country is the government? For all the blathering about activist judges interpreting into the constitution rights that don’t exist, why is no one yelling about the rights to secrecy being claimed by our current administration that also don’t seem to appear in the Constitution?

The administration in Washington has once again slammed the door on an inquiry by Congress, this time into the destruction of interrogation tapes by the CIA. They say the Justice Department is investigating and handing over any more material will threaten our national security.
Ah, I wondered how long it would take for them to spit those words out. Our government shoves down our throats all manner of unimaginable personal invasions by invoking the words “national security.” And it protects every dirty little secret it might harbor with those same words.
So the trend seems to be that we get to strip practically naked to fly home for the holidays while they get to lock the door and throw away the key on any activities we, as citizens, might actually question.
The contradictions that this administration lives with on a daily basis would be enough to make a sane person crazy.
We are told that life is sacred but capital punishment is OK.
We are told that a woman has no right to the privacy of her womb but the government can’t provide health insurance because our Decider in Chief doesn’t want government interfering in the privacy a patient and her doctor need to make health care decisions.
We’re told that we must give up all dignity and privacy for the sake of national security but the government can keep all the secrets it wants because we, the electorate and our elected representatives in Washington, are clearly too dangerous to trust with that information. It doesn’t matter if the information relates to firing U.S. attorneys or possibly torturing detainees, it’s apparently none of our business.
The phrase, “Trust me. I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you” is a long-standing joke in this country. Yet isn’t that exactly what this administration is saying to us now? Trust us. We know what’s best for you but we can’t tell you what that is because “they” might find out.
At this point, I’m more worried about us than “them.” The current administration is slowly stripping away our privacy rights. We must give up phone records, bank records, e-mails, shoes and small vials of liquid hand washing soap to them. In return, they raise a wall of secrecy around their activities that makes the Great Wall of China seem small. All of which leads me to believe they have something to hide.
Our founding fathers drew up a constitution to protect the rights of citizens from their government. They’d had the experience of King George making them house soldiers, taking the winter supplies for the royal army, taxing them for foreign wars they didn’t support. And they said no, that’s not the way we want government to act.
So why do I feel like we are but one step away from that form of government now? Why does the refusal of this administration to admit to the oversight of the Congress seem like another step down a slippery slope that we’ve been on since 9/11? Why, in the name of all we as Americans hold near and dear, are we not up in arms screaming as our most basic rights are stripped from us and given to the federal government?
Well, I for one am now officially screaming. I’d suggest you start to do the same while you still have the right to scream without needing a government permit telling you the place and time in which you will be allowed one brief yell whose decibels and length will be strictly monitored.
You can do it now or you can look forward to a world in which your children can only dream of the days when being American meant being free.

Elise Patkotak • 06:52 AM •
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some young whippersnapper in New York is suing a bar on behalf of all young men saying that Ladies Night at the bar discriminates against him. As someone who was front lines of the gender wars to get women treated as equals, let me say this about that. Stop it you little....well, I guess I’m still too much of a lady...no, I’m not. Stop it, asshole!  This is known as that proverbial one step too far. Because based on your theory, every restaurant that offers a buffet discriminates against me because I’ve had bypass surgery and can’t eat much. And every restaurant that gives a senior discount is discriminating against every one who isn’t a senior.  So just stop it. You are making something that is a deadly serious issue into a joke...oh wait, is that your intent? To make real discrimination a joke so that those of us who are still fighting for workplace equality are made to look foolish? Because if that’s what your ulterior motive is, I’d suggest you not hope for much in your Christmas stocking besides coal. In fact, I’ll take is as a personal task to make sure its Mrs. Claus who visits you on Christmas.

Elise Patkotak • 06:09 AM •
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I looked in my closet some time in early fall and thought how utterly tired I was of seeing the same old coats that had hung there for seven years. So I grabbed most of them, put them in a bag and brought them to our local shelter with the idea that I would go shopping and buy myself a nice winter coat. Needless to say, I never went shopping. And so I head out the door tonight for a lovely dinner and theater in a blue nylon jacket that is most suited for...well, not going out to the theater.  Sigh.

Elise Patkotak • 06:13 AM •
Monday, December 17, 2007

It’s too bad the word “whatever” was not around in its current connotation when I was young. I’m guessing it would have immediately constituted at least ninety percent of my communications with my mother.  And it would have definitely been less volatile than the communications we did have.

Elise Patkotak • 06:31 AM •
Sunday, December 16, 2007

As more and more Alaskan politicians do the perp walk, my brother Phil reminded me of something someone from our old neighborhood used to say. For all I know, he copped it from someone else. Either way, it’s so appropriate right now in our political life here.

“There is no such thing as an honest man..just a thief without an opportunity”

Elise Patkotak • 06:48 AM •
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shouldn’t we be more concerned about Mitt Romney’s inability to explain his flip flopping positions that seem tailored to the audience he is now trying to woo than how he worships his god? I mean, short of devil worship that involves eating human flesh, who cares? I’m more worried that he seems to be just another self-serving politicians whose beliefs will change to meet whatever audience he’s trying to win over. Though that’s not half as bad as Giuliani, who claims he still believes in his principals but can live with laws that violate them.  Is there not a candidate out there who isn’t also basically a prostitute?

Elise Patkotak • 06:57 AM •

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