Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Thursday, May 19, 2016

The sun is shinning, the trees are blooming, the flowers are blossoming, so it must be baby bird season.

Baby birds are not terribly cute except in a “so ugly they’re cute” fashion. The first thing you think when you see a featherless baby bird is dinosaur. Because this is exactly what a naked little baby bird looks like.  Birds are descendants of the dinosaurs that once roamed this earth.
But given that they are so ugly they’re cute, people who find baby birds usually have the desire to pick them up and take care of them. While this is an amazingly loving and compassionate gesture, it doesn’t always work out well for the bird for a few reasons. To begin with, wild birds, even those hand raised by humans, do not make good pets. Their genes are wild and their wild genes say you are the enemy no matter how well you treat them. And if the bird imprints on a human, the outcome is rarely good.
Over at Bird TLC, baby bird season is a busy time. People cut trees down while fixing up their yard only to discover a nest has fallen with the tree. A predator might grab a baby and drop it to the ground. Cars hit mama ducks, geese and gulls with mind numbing regularity. Sometimes mom has kicked out a bird from the nest that her instincts tell her doesn’t stand a good chance at survival.
Most of these babies end up at Bird TLC. Or, at least they should. The volunteers there are trained to not interact with the babies so they don’t become imprinted on humans. This is especially important when you are talking about gulls, ducks and geese. There is no surer death sentence for a wild bird than to have it imprint on humans who then try to set it free. It doesn’t know how to be free because humans can’t teach it what its mama and poppa should have been teaching it. These poor birds will constantly go back to humans for food until some human is not amused and shoots them.
Our little songbirds are a bit easier to handle in that they don’t imprint on humans the way the gulls, geese and ducks do. This is why Bird TLC sponsors a Baby Bird Seminar every year for anyone who qualifies. The seminar teaches volunteers the ins and outs of caring for what looks like nothing more than a little dinosaur with fluff.  And as I’ve said before and I will repeat again, if you are the parents of a teenager, there is no better birth control lesson than sending your teen home with little balls of fluff that will cry out to be fed every few hours and can’t be ignored.
Of course, we don’t just let anyone take home these little ones. We need to be sure that both the parents and the kids involved are ready for this responsibility and will care for these tiny critters until they can fly free.
When it comes to waterfowl like ducks, geese and gulls, we keep them at the clinic to ensure they are raised in such a fashion as to not imprint on the humans caring for them. As soon as they are able, we bring them to water where others of their species can be found. If this is done properly, they leave us for their natural home with no unhealthy connection to humans.
As summer arrives bathing us in sunshine and warmth, be a little extra careful on the roads. Be aware of the little families that may be crossing from one side to the other. As rushed as you might feel you life is, take a deep breath and give them a moment to complete their journey to the other side of the road. If you are cutting a tree down, take the extra time to look for a nest so you know what you’re dealing with. And if you have a desire to watch a dinosaur turn into a beautiful creature that can slip the bonds of this earth in a way we can only dream about, check out Bird TLC’s seminar on baby bird care on May 21 from 11 to 1.
It could end up giving you an experience you’ll cherish for a lifetime to come.

Elise Patkotak • 03:47 AM •
Monday, May 16, 2016

Been sick for four days now. Sick as in unable to walk from bed to couch without being exhausted. I was going to complain until I heard last night that a wonderful lady who once worked for me, Sarah Jacoby, died on Sunday. Suddenly I found myself very grateful that I could still bitch and moan about my illness… something Sarah can no longer do. And knowing Sarah, something she never did.

Elise Patkotak • 10:48 AM •
Thursday, May 12, 2016

So this is what it’s come to. Statesmanship, patriotism, the welfare of our country, not giving the button to nuclear weapons to a reality star… all this goes by the wayside because party unity and hating the Clintons is more important. I have been disappointed in our congressional delegation many times in the past but this time is the worse. They are all uniting behind Donald Trump because they believe defeating Hillary Clinton is more important than electing someone with even a modicum of credentials for the job of United States President.

This is like a patient asking for someone who just got a nurse’s assistant diploma from DeVry University to do their open-heart surgery because they don’t like the highly credentialed surgeon available for the procedure.
Let there be no doubt about it. A Trump presidency would not just be the low point in American history and politics. It would be as though a sinkhole opened up beneath the lowest point and dropped us even further into the abyss. The Republican candidate for president brings, as his main credentials, a host of failed businesses, a host of bankruptcies, a reality TV show, three wives and multiple mistresses.
Hillary Clinton may not be you ideal candidate on many levels. But she is competent and qualified. She brings a background as a senator and a secretary of state. She has been involved actively in causes she supports since her college days. Donald Trump went to a military academy and compares that to serving in our armed forces. He insults women, minorities and foreign leaders. His policy to Make America Great Again seems to consist of him saying the words over and over as though this were Beetlejuice. Say it enough times and somehow it will be.
I would feel a lot more sympathy towards the Republican Party if they weren’t reaping what they sowed. I just don’t think they ever imagined that a Donald Trump would come along and collect their harvest. They were hoping that the fruits of their labor would die on the vine. But it didn’t. The Tea Party that they welcomed with such enthusiasm has sown the seeds that resulted in Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. And they have no one to blame but themselves.
Lisa Murkowski and Don Long are up for reelection this fall. Alaska being Alaska, there is every chance that they could support Lucifer and still get reelected. But I persist in holding out hope that Alaskans will show some common sense at the voting booth and not give their nod of approval to anyone who would support Donald Trump in the name of party unity over what is best for this country. And Donald Trump is not what America needs. Not now, not ever.
Both have said they are supporting him with some reservations. Well, thank god they have reservations. Sadly, their reservations about electing this orange man for president do not outweigh their need to bow to their party overlords and do their bidding. Donald Trump insults women, Hispanics, Muslims and praises Putin. This is the man our congressional delegation has decided is a better choice than Hillary Clinton based, I imagine, on the Republican Party’s unmitigated hatred of her.
Whether the religious right likes it or not, she stuck to her marriage vow for whatever reason. She raised her daughter in a two parent home that actually had the original two parents. Her daughter neither got pregnant outside of marriage nor ever abused drugs or alcohol. I can see why the right hates her. She shows up their hypocrisy with every breath she takes.
But somehow, our esteemed congressional delegation thinks that Donald Trump, a man whose sole qualification for the presidency is firing Gary Busey on a reality TV show, is better qualified than Hillary Clinton. Or, at least that’s what the party overlords tell them to think.
When party unity comes above the good of this country, this country is in real trouble. When supposedly respected politicians support a buffoon for a position that puts his finger on the nuclear button, we need to have a serious conversation about those politicians. They seem to have forgotten that their first responsibility is to this country and the people who elected them. Their first loyalty should not be to a party, Republican, Democrat, Tea or otherwise.

Elise Patkotak • 03:48 AM •
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
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Elise Patkotak • 03:31 PM •

Read all about how Alaska’s congressional delegation thinks party unity is more important than national security.

Elise Patkotak • 03:34 AM •
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bird TLC already has its first clutch of mallard babies. This is pretty early but given the mild winter not surprising.
Please be careful if you plan to cut any trees down. Check for nests first. The birds don’t ask for a lot of time to raise their young. If you can hold off on a nest with a tree for just a little times, the babes will fly off on their own soon enough. Unlike millennials, they aren’t allowed to remain in the nest for long at all.

Elise Patkotak • 03:49 AM •
Monday, May 09, 2016

I’m officially as annoyed with Bernie Sanders and his campaign as possible. I am sick and tired of all the posts from Alaskans for Bernie Sanders that keep showing up in my email. Every time I block one, they use someone else’s name to still get to me. I’m tired or being badgered. I’m tired of him lecturing me. If I wanted to listen to an old man kvetch, I could just go to a family dinner. He and his badgering campaign have officially and completely pushed me into Hillary’s camp.
And if anyone has the secret to stop those damn emails from filling up my in box, please, oh please, let me know the secret.

Elise Patkotak • 10:26 AM •
Sunday, May 08, 2016

Donald Trump now has Sarah Palin threatening Paul Ryan over his non-support of Trump. The crazy has the crazier making totally insane comments. Yep, we’ve been swallowed up by a black hole of ignorance and insanity. And I say that with all due respect to those people with mental illnesses, most of whom are more capable than either Donald or Sarah to run this country.

Elise Patkotak • 10:54 AM •
Friday, May 06, 2016

My website will soon be gravitating elsewhere. I’ll let you know as soon as I know if there is anything you need to do. You may just come here one day and find it has been refreshed and upgraded and you never noticed a blip. That’s not my usual luck but I can always hope.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Thursday, May 05, 2016

As the debate over the use of bathrooms by transgendered people continues on in its idiocy, I have one question. How do they plan to enforce laws requiring you to use the bathroom connected to your sex organs at birth? 

Will everyone entering or leaving a bathroom be x-rayed to make sure they have the proper parts? Or will a security guard grope us all to ascertain we have the right equipment for the bathroom we are trying to enter? And if a transgendered person has had reconstructive surgery, how will the bathroom police differentiate them from someone born with those sex organs? Will we be forced to undergo a vaginal exam looking for telltale scars? Will we now require DNA tests to use a public restroom to make sure the proper x’s and y’s are in place for the door being entered? Perhaps most importantly for those of us women of a certain age for whom facial hair is replacing the hormones we once had, will we be strip searched to prove we just have little old lady mustaches and aren’t really men?
These are questions crying out for an answer as this insane debate rages on. The arguments being made for the need for these laws are yet another example of a group of desperate politicians looking for a solution to something that has never been a problem. They are looking to divert our attention from their current state of political disarray. As the majority in this country march proudly into the 21st century, they vainly try to pull us back into the 17th.
When was the last time you heard about a transgendered person being caught doing something awful in a restroom? Answer – you didn’t. Yet I can almost immediately come up with at least half a dozen politicians who have done worse things in bathrooms and locker rooms to young boys. But there is no law requiring proof that you are not a child molester to use a public restroom.
My favorite argument is that this will prevent perverts from dressing up as women and going into bathrooms looking for little girls. For starts, no man “dressing up” as a woman will ever pass for one on entering a bathroom.  There is a world of difference in just dressing like the opposite sex versus identifying completely with it.  And does anyone really think that these perverts were just waiting for a law allowing transgendered people to use the bathroom of their sexual identity before casing restrooms for victims? Perverts are perverts. If they want to get into a locker room or bathroom, they will find a way no matter the law. Once again, I refer you to any number of prominent men who have proven this to be sadly true.
And why is this so much about little girls. Little boys also get sexually abused. Check out Penn State’s football program history or the Roman Catholic Church’s priesthood. Little boys can be victims too. The reality is that schools, locker rooms and confessionals are more dangerous for some children than any public bathroom will ever be.
But here’s the point where common sense seems to have totally fled and been replaced with verifiable insanity. Where do these politicians think transgendered people have been going to the bathroom when out in public up until now? They’ve been using public restrooms right next to the rest of us. Or do they think that up until now transgendered people have simply been holding it in?
The politicians who have suddenly decided this is a critical issue in American life tend to be conservatives who propound the theory that the least amount of government is the best and that government needs to stay out of our lives, businesses and guns. But they seem fixated on controlling our genitals and now want to privately inspect us all to make sure we are using the bathroom they believe God intended us to use. Our country is beset with infrastructure problems but the only infrastructures legislatures around the country seem interested in are our private infrastructures.
Nothing would make me more nervous about myself or my children using a rest room than knowing that someone like Dennis Hastert or Larry “Wide Stance’ Craig was using that restroom too. Given a choice, I’ll take the stall next to a transgendered person any day.

Elise Patkotak • 03:53 AM •
Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Ever wonder how they plan to enforce the rules on using bathrooms based on the sex with which you were born? Check out my column today in the Alaska Dispatch News or my posting tomorrow for the answer.

Elise Patkotak • 03:58 AM •
Tuesday, May 03, 2016

I can’t decide who would make me throw up quicker if I were forced to have sex with him… Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Bill Clinton.  It’s a true toss up. Though just seeing Trump and Cruz makes me throw up in my mouth a little so they definitely have the advantage here.

Elise Patkotak • 03:56 AM •
Monday, May 02, 2016

Aside from the fact that I was never in shape to wear a see through dress, I have to say that I find them distinctly unattractive. If you are going to go naked, then just go naked. Throwing some gauzy number over your body while taping your boobs to strategically placed dots on the gauze just looks stupid.

Elise Patkotak • 10:54 AM •
Friday, April 29, 2016

In case you haven’t seen it yet, there was an article in the ADN yesterday about Alaska Senate President Kevin Meyer having a $100 meal with lobbyists a week before voting to buy the LIO building in Anchorage. Oh, did I mention the lobbyists worked for the owner of the building. Anyhow, here’s what Meyer’s had to say about the issue:
“Meyer said that the idea that lawmakers should pay for their own meals when they dine with lobbyists is a “topic worth discussion.” But the very idea seemed to perplex him.
“We could pay for our own way,” he said. “I’m just trying to think how that would work.”

OH DEAR LORD! Here’s how it works. The check hits the table. Everyone takes out their wallet and pay for their portion.
See, that wasn’t hard to figure out, now was it? Even a politician should be able to follow the protocol without much difficulty.

Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Thursday, April 28, 2016

It would be the ultimate irony if the Legislature ended up in Anchorage at the Taj Mahawker. In a time of fiscal crisis, they will be drawing down money we can’t afford to continue their goal of figuring out what other group of Alaskans they can put the screws to. They’ll do this while sitting in a building that they neither need nor deserve. These legislators claim to be fiscal conservatives while spending money the state doesn’t have because they can’t do their work on time. Yet they propose to penalize state workers who actually have to be punctual, work a full day and get their assignments done on schedule. They are not being fiscally conservative. They are being very bad human beings.

But that’s apparently fiscal conservatism Alaska style. Their motto is, “We got ours and we’re coming after yours.”
Nationally, Republicans tend to loudly declare that they are the party of fiscal constraint. They are the party that will keep government in check and out of your pocket. 
But here in Alaska, our version of fiscal conservatism looks a tad different. A Republican led legislature has dominated our statehouse for years now, spending the money as fast as it came in with seemingly little thought to the future. These vaunted fiscal conservatives never had an emergency plan for when the oil ran out or the price crashed. They never looked towards the future further than their next election bid. And if they needed to spend every cent as quickly as it came in to keep getting re-elected, then so be it.
When the crash hit, our fiscal conservatives responded by offering to buy a building for $32 million while cutting needed capital projects across the state. They are taking more and more state money as the session runs on and on but they are trying to cut the salaries of the people who actually make the government function. They are fiscal conservatives who were caught off guard (I’d say with their pants down but, well, you know) when the floor dropped out of our state’s budget. How does that happen to the party that claims it can be trusted with our money so much more than the other party? They not only didn’t have a plan B, they hadn’t ever really thought about one.
I grew up in what can easily be called a fiscally conservative household, as did probably most of the people reading this of a certain age.  Our homes were fiscally conservative because our parents were the Depression Generation and they knew full well how fast the bottom could fall out of your financial plans. Many of their childhoods were marked by uncertainty over when the next paycheck would come to pay the rent or buy groceries. Others grew up in fairly secure homes but saw the devastation of the Great Depression all around them. They grew up being careful with their money. They didn’t buy now and pay later. If they couldn’t pay now, they paid in installments. For many of our parents, their financial plan was to always have enough finances to buy the groceries and pay the heating bill.
Coming from a background like this, I find myself someone who is very uncomfortable with debt and tries to carry as little as possible. If I see something I want and know I can’t afford it, I sulk and wish I were rich and then do some extra work or cut some other expense out so I can eventually afford it. That’s fiscally conservative.
Somehow this train wreck in Juneau thinks otherwise. They live in that Hello Kitty world where everything is pink and pretty and never will be any other way. In their world, oil prices would never fall this low, and they certainly couldn’t imagine the price so low for so long. No, in their pretty pink world our non-renewable resources stretched on into eternity and we all rode unicorns to the state fair.
Making a financial plan for when the bottom falls out, making a financial plan in case tomorrow happens is what a true fiscal conservative would do first. Because he would then know exactly what kind of expenditures could be safely made today while ensuring a sound tomorrow through prudent planning.
But hey, that’s not how Alaskan fiscal conservatives define themselves.

Elise Patkotak • 03:54 AM •

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