Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Saturday, November 11, 2006

My sister and I once took my mother with us on a road trip. As we wandered around outside some city in Utah trying to find our hotel, my mother got nervous because we were lost.  My sister’s response was, “How lost can we be? We’re in America.” Half the fun of road trips can be the odd, out of the way places you find when you get lost. But now cars come with GPS onboard and all you have to do is ask the computer to tell you where to go. You’ll never be lost again. Though in not being lost, you will lose something possibly much more important.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:41 AM •
Friday, November 10, 2006

I bought a doghouse for Blondie who likes to spend her days outside making sure no squirrel or bird tries to take over her yard.  I called on my young friend Paul to assist with it.  He took the doghouse out of its box and laid its pieces on the floor. I lifted the box upright and started reading the instructions on the back.  I turned to tell Paul what step one should be.  He already had three of the four levels attached.  It’s got to just be something in your genes. On the one hand, I was confused by the instructions.  On the other hand, he clearly didn’t need them.  And that’s why I call Paul.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blue wandered into the bathroom as I read the morning paper and I noticed something all over her head. It was bird food, a mixture of seeds. birdy cornbread and so many other things. And I realized that she has taken Mr. T’s place at the trough known as the bottom of Abdul’s cage.  She grazes there each day while Abdul showers her with crumbs.  My little circle is truly becoming complete again.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Because of deadlines, this column is being written well before votes are cast in the November 7 election.  Therefore, this is strictly a subjective analysis of the recent campaign season and not based on any hopes I may have for a high paying, low energy job with anyone who may have actually won. Though, lord knows, I am always open to anyone who wants to make an offer.

Actually, this overview is pretty much based on late night conversations I have with my birds and dogs who are as astute at political commentary as just about any talking head in the media today - and, may I add, more astute than many.
Despite the cynics who say I never met a campaign that didn’t annoy me and my animals beyond anything one should have to endure, even for democracy’s sake, I did find some good things is our recently ended political season.
First of all, as always, I must congratulate the people of this country for carrying on the tradition of democracy once again without resorting to guns and tanks in the street to make their point.  We are so blasť about our democracy that we sometimes fail to pat ourselves on the back enough for the long string of elections we can point to, stretching over three centuries, in which the winners took office and the losers regrouped for the next go round and no one overthrew anyone else’s government.
Even granting the small number of people who actually go to the polls, the bottom line is that everyone accepts the outcome and goes on with life.  We need to stop more often and appreciate just how special that is.
I liked the fact that two credible candidates for high office, one for governor and one for the House of Representatives, were women. I think the inclusion of viable female candidates in the mix of state and national politics bring a different flavor to the races and the debates.  Opposing male candidates have to be very careful to not appear to be bullying or brutish while still engaging in spirited debate with their female opponents. Walking this fine line has cause a lot of rethinking of traditionally accepted campaign strategies and that’s a good thing.
I think Diane Benson deserves a lot of credit for running herself ragged trying to mount a viable campaign against Don Young despite his reluctance to engage with her very often.  As a candidate who started out with little name recognition and single digit numbers, she fought hard and that is to her credit. 
Unfortunately, the media conceded the race to Young before it even began so she was virtually unable to get the coverage she needed to make her case to a wider Alaskan audience. As anyone who has run a statewide campaign here knows, this state is just too big and remote to be able to cover it one town meeting at a time.  Without statewide coverage, you end up with a stealth campaign and they are usually not very viable.
The major negative of this election season has been the incessant ads against Proposition Two.  I felt like I was a little person at the bottom of a hill and a big giant at the top was throwing snowballs down at me so fast that I didn’t have time to take a breath or ask why.
The ads caused me to want to vote for Prop Two just because I was so angry at the feeling that I was being bullied. I longed for info from the camp that first got the proposition on the ballot but that didn’t come till literally the eleventh hour. Where were they all those other months? Why did they put that proposition on our ballot and then go underground as though ashamed of their actions till forced to surface a week before Election Day?
All in all, though, I must say that any campaign in which that is my chief complaint is not a bad campaign season at all. The candidates stayed relatively civil till almost the very end.  The amount of sound and fury signifying nothing was kept to more of a minimum than usual and Alaskans had some real choices in the people they could vote for.
I’m glad it’s over.  Like dental work, it is something to be endured for a better life in the future.  But this time around, it was like dental work on nitrous - almost enjoyable.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:40 AM •
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Democrats sweep the elections and Brittany Spears is getting divorced.  Are these not signs of the Apocalypse?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 10:42 PM •

Go vote today or shut up and don’t complain about anything in public life ever again. If you don’t vote, you lose all right to complain, comment or otherwise have attitude about any elected official or policy they may devise.  And I’m a menopausal woman with attitude so you sure don’t want to question why I get to make that rule.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:12 AM •
Monday, November 06, 2006

There was an article in the paper yesterday about the latest in technology being little speakers to go with the I-Pods or whatever the hell it is that people are using to listen to music nowadays.  I only have this to say about that.  PLEASE DON’T!!!  PLEASE, OH PLEASE, OH PLEASE, DON’T!!  Isn’t there enough unnecessary noise in the world today? Don’t make me listen to your music whether it is a rap song about somebody’s ho or a ballad about somebody’s ....well, ho.  Keep it to youself.  Please.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:23 AM •
Sunday, November 05, 2006

Come Tuesday, our silly season will be over and we will advance to the really important stuff.  Or am I the only one who has noticed the sudden glut of toy commercials on TV?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:40 AM •
Saturday, November 04, 2006

If eyebrows are the vestigial remnants of facial hair, what’s their purpose? Why did they remain after the other hair left?  What has ever been their point in life? What do they do for us that we kept them but got rid of the hair on our ears...well, at least, most of us got rid of ear hair.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:08 AM •
Friday, November 03, 2006

KBRW, Barrow’s one and only radio station, is a public broadcasting station that is critical to the people of the north. It’s having its membership drive this week. If you are an old Barrowite reading this, you should consider making a pledge if only in memory of all those great Sunday evening singspirations you remember so well...or Cora singing Happy Birthday on the birthday program...or Johnny Adams singing “This Land is Your Land” in Inupiaq during local talent day.
And if you never have been to Barrow, consider pledging just for the boost it will give to your reputation to say that you pledged to the farthest north public broadcasting station in America.
KBRW now streams online so you can go to their website to make your pledge and then listen to your name read over the air as a contributor.  Really, do you have anything better than that to look forward to today?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yesterday I brought Blondie to the vet to get her anal glands expelled. Does life get much better than that?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:46 AM •
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I have spent most of my life fighting the battle of the bulge. I’ve done it for a variety of reasons. When I was young I did it because I was told men did not find “large” women attractive. Since I grew up in an era when it was more important for a woman to earn her MRS than her BS, this became a major issue in my youth.

As I aged, I fought the battle in an attempt to ward off the actual aging process. I come from the generation that said we should trust no one over 30. That made it very difficult to reach 40 and 50 feeling good about myself.  I thought if I could just be thin enough, no one would notice how old I’d gotten.  Needless to say, that didn’t exactly work out as I planned. When fourteen bones in your back creak and crack when you get out of a chair while making that “oof” sound, people know you are not a spring chicken.
My final battle of the bulge came as I entered my “mature” years and developed health problems that were directly affected by weight.  I’m having more success with the battle this time around, probably due to the fact that it is more about surviving long enough to spend my retirement than simply vanity.
All of the above is an attempt at full disclosure for what follows. And that is that America seems obsessed with the issue of obesity with no middle ground tolerated in the discussion.  You either accept that America is getting extremely fat and the collective weight of the next generation’s poundage induced diseases will crush our health care system or you are wrong. 
As always, I find extremism suspect based solely on the fact that extremists are rarely actually dealing with reality. I find truth can usually be found somewhere in the middle ground that most extremists loathe because it does not fit in with their worldview.
And so I watch in amazement as designers create size 0 clothing with the implication being that if you are anything over a size 2, you are fat. There is a commercial on TV for a diet product in which the pitch is that the young lady was able to go from a size 8 to a size 2 in some amazingly short amount of time.
I think in this instance Muslims fundamentalists are more honest in their actions than Americans. They make no bones of the fact that they want their women to disappear and cover them completely from head to toe to achieve that end.
Here in America, we view that action as reprehensible but see nothing wrong in encouraging girls to become a size 0. Either way, the message going out to women is that to be acceptable, you have to be either a cipher totally enveloped in a walking tent or a size 0 which really just says you are a nothing, literally a zero.
I watch in amazement as cupcakes are banned from school birthday parties or any event for children sponsored by anyone who hopes to maintain any sort of good reputation in the kiddie world.  We no longer allow birthday cupcakes, Christmas cookies, Halloween candy or any munchie that isn’t healthy and sugar free. These same children will then go home to households in which at least 50% of the dinners they eat will be take out and of that, most will probably be pizza.  So let’s take a guess as to which will ultimately have a greater effect on the child’s eventual size and eating habits.
I think our kids need to learn good nutrition and good eating habits.  I think that to be effective, that training needs to be backed up by parents who cook healthy meals at home. I think schools should be allowed to treat kids on special holidays with a cookie or cupcake without risking their reputation.  If what the child learns is that if you eat healthy most of the time an occasional treat won’t kill you, then the child will have learned a real life lesson.
But if what we teach our children is that all sweets are forbidden and bad...well, let’s all remember back to our childhoods and how we responded when something became forbidden.  Made it way more attractive, didn’t it?
So let’s leave the extremes and meet in the middle where common sense should prevail.  Our kids need to learn to eat sensibly. They need to understand that neither a size 0 nor a size 22 is healthy but that leaves a lot of room in the middle. 
And for goodness sakes, grab hold of some sanity and let them have cookies at the class Christmas party.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:00 AM •
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A couple of nights ago I decided to ignore the falling snow and grill a kebob for dinner.  The grill is on my porch. I needed to change from my slippers to a pair of shoes. I went to my closet. There was a pair of black shoes and a pair of brown shoes, both of which would have been equally up to the snowy task.  The brown shoes are more comfortable. But I was wearing grey pants and a black shirt and black socks.  As much as I wanted to wear the brown shoes, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of my sister shaking her head in sad disapproval as I put on brown shoes with a black outfit. And so I put the black shoes on even though they hurt my toes. Because even on a snowy Saturday night in Anchorage, with my sister three thousand miles away, I hesitate to wear brown with black for fear that she will somehow know.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:21 AM •
Monday, October 30, 2006

When boys are selling things at the store to raise money for a team or for the boy scouts, they tend to stand around joking, punching each other in the shoulders and looking as though the last thing on their mind is pushing their product. When girls are selling things for their team or the girl scouts, they seem much more focused on the task at hand and rarely let anyone go by without at least asking if they are interested in buying something. 
No moral here. Just something I’ve observed.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 05:57 AM •
Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dunking? Torture? Yes, I could not be prouder of our current leadership. With Bill Cinton we debated the meaning of the word “is”, With George Bush and his fun loving puppetmaster Dick Cheney, we debate the definition of torure.  I’d was less embarrassed by Bill Clinton’s cigar trick.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 11:11 AM •

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