Elise Sereni
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Congratulations. Welcome to the reality in which most of us have lived for the past 12 years or so.

Elise Patkotak • 03:30 AM •
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Got the bill from my dental surgeon for implant surgery I had. Found a $450 senior discount on the bill. I guess growing old does bring some perks. If you live in Alaska, his name is Eric Nordstrom and he’s actually a pretty amazing dental surgeon on top of being nice to the elderly. What more could you want?

Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Monday, May 18, 2015

Leonard Pitt’s column about the guy trying to crowd source $30,000 for his health care is a must read. The guy is a Republican who refused to get Obamacare because he could pay for himself and didn’t need no stinking government welfare. Well, he got sick. Used up all his savings. Couldn’t work. And apparently health care providers don’t take bootstraps as pay. He then tried to get Obamacare but enrollment was closed. He wasn’t eligible for Medicaid because he lives in one of those states where a Republican governor refused Medicaid expansion money. So, as Leonard Pitts so wisely asked, do Republicans really think that GoFundMe is a better way to deal with health care costs than Obamacare?

Elise Patkotak • 08:32 AM •
Sunday, May 17, 2015

Come join me and Cache Crow Kodi at the Alaska Zoo today for International Migratory Bird Day. Bird TLC will have birds there all day. Eagles and owls and crows, oh my!

Elise Patkotak • 03:21 AM •
Saturday, May 16, 2015

I awoke today to no pain in the surgical site and no need to take pain meds so I am back to being functional… ok, maybe functional is too high to grasp but at least I’m not sitting in a chair drooling while watching BB reruns. That has to count for something.

Elise Patkotak • 10:19 AM •
Friday, May 15, 2015

So I get an e-mail from Judy that Ed Norton from the old Honeymooners Show (think early 1950s Jackie Gleason) will be at her casino/hotel in Atlantic City to sign autographs. I respond with a shocked expression of surprise. I thought for sure the guy was dead by now. And if he wasn’t, he had to be almost 100. She happily replied that yes, he was probably about 97. Then I thought about it a little more. But before I could e-mail her back that Ed Norton was the name of Art Carney’s character on the show and not an actual person, she sent a correction e-mail out to let us all know that she meant Edward Norton, the actor.
She was so damn close I almost want to give this one to her.

Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Etok, Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., was definitely one of the most colorful people it has been my privilege to know. He was amazing in many ways, and in just as many ways could make friendship a challenge. He was who he was and made no apologies for that.

Etok managed to keep his passion for his people alive through more decades than any of us thought we’d survive. When I first met him in Barrow in the early seventies, I knew nothing really about the struggle for land claims or the indigenous rights of Alaska Natives. I had been seduced there by an ad in the back of the American Journal of Nursing recruiting nurses for an adventure in a “remote Alaskan village”.  My knowledge of Alaska came from 4th grade geography as taught in the 1950s. My knowledge of Eskimos was slightly less informed.
My first night in Barrow, I was invited to a welcome party at the apartment of the IHS physician. One of the memories I have of that night was of a very young Oliver Leavitt leaning against the doorway to the kitchen telling me all about the formation of something called the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and how it was going to be a game changer on the Slope. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Then, not very long after that, I met Etok. I got a master lesson in what Oliver had been saying. Getting it from Etok’s point of view, of course, meant I got a slightly different perspective than that promulgated by the majority of people involved in the land claims settlement. It was a perspective that Etok would spend a lifetime fighting for.
I got to know Etok personally over many a long night of pinochle games with an ever-present pot of coffee simmering on the stove. Etok had an alcohol problem that he, like so many of his contemporaries, battled his whole life. Along with his devotion to the fight for his vision of the future of the Inupiaq, this was the struggle in which he constantly engaged, sometimes more successfully than others. And one summer, while he fought to keep his sobriety, we got into a pattern of late night pinochle games with a couple of friends. The more coffee he drank, the more awake he got and so the games would go on all night. For those of us who had to go to work the next day, these all-nighters could be deadly were it not for listening to Etok explain the world through his perspective. It was always a fascinating take on the issues closest to his heart.
In later years, when I was working at the borough’s Public Information Office, Etok would arrive around the same time as the ASRC annual meeting. He’d wander into my office and tell me he needed the copier. I knew better than to try to tell Etok that anything on the North Slope was off limits to him. This was his land, his government and his corporation. About two thousand copies later, he’d leave and head off to the annual meeting to be the gadfly that wouldn’t stop buzzing.
While the rest of us grew old and to some degree lost the fire in our belly that we’d once had as rebellious youth, the fire never went out in Etok’s heart or soul. He never stopped believing. While Oliver Leavitt started wearing suits and graying at the temple, while Jake Adams and other Inupiat leaders were steering ASRC towards becoming the most successful Native corporation in the state, Etok was holding on to the ideals that first caused him to fight for his people. Those ideals didn’t always, if ever, jive with the thinking of the Native leadership on the Slope. But that just seemed to stoke his fire even more.
Years passed and yet, when I spoke with Etok, it was as though they faded away and I was a young rebel in the sixties all over again. I loved him for bringing that feeling out in me, for reminding me of those times and how amazing it was to feel something so passionately and fight for something no matter what the odds.
I have no doubt that Etok is right now in heaven organizing the angels and explaining to them their indigenous rights. Heaven will never be the same.

Elise Patkotak • 12:35 AM •
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

They’re supposed to be in special session yet nothing but silence emanates from their offices. I guess I shouldn’t expect much more than silence given that their collective IQ doesn’t come up as far as Forrest Gump’s. And if you delete the Democrats and only total the IQ of the Republicans, it’s downright scary how low the number is. Maybe the need a guardian appointed to help them the way we do for people with special needs. Or is that just insulting to people with special needs?

Elise Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I remember watching the last Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and thinking that no one would ever be able to take his place. Then David Letterman stepped up and blew me away. Now he’s leaving. The good news is that Stephen Colbert is taking over so I know my heart will not be broken for long.

Elise Patkotak • 03:47 AM •
Monday, May 11, 2015

Have you seen the idiots running for the other party? What choice would I have? 

Elise Patkotak • 08:46 AM •
Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day, especially to all my friends who take in rescue breeds and mother them to contentment, security and safety. You are my heroes.

Elise Patkotak • 11:34 AM •
Friday, May 08, 2015

The Alaska Legislators are in town. Hide. Hide now before they accidentally infect you with whatever disease causes such a gross level of incompetence in adults. Given how quickly it spread to every Republican in the Legislature, it is clearly contagious and fatal to any common sense or intelligence in your body.

Elise Patkotak • 03:29 AM •
Thursday, May 07, 2015

Since this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, I thought I should write a column about that and take a break from writing about our incompetent, pathetic legislature. But it’s not easy. No matter how hard I try, they keep handing me ammunition that is impossible to ignore. Let’s take, for instance, the two-week break that Republican legislators felt they owed themselves for the backbreaking labor they’ve been doing for the past three months.

A lot of people who work very hard to make ends meet don’t get any vacation time at all no matter how long they work. Many of them are the people Republican legislators would prefer to think don’t exist so they don’t have to feel guilty about not considering Medicaid expansion. The rest of us have to work a full year to earn a vacation. But our esteemed legislators found a way around that. They said they needed to come home to hear what their constituents had to say. Welcome to 1950.
That was possibly the last time you actually had to go back to your district, unless you were a Bush legislator, to find out what your constituents wanted. Soon after that, phones became ubiquitous even in Alaska. And since the 19th century there’s been telegraph service. Going back even further, Alaska has had the services of the US mail ever since it became American. And, of course, on the other side of that timeline, in the 21st century, we have e-mail and tweets. To say nothing of the time honored Alaskan tradition of actually spending the money to fly to Juneau to express your concerns.
But all that was not enough for some of our legislators. They were pretty sure that the hundreds of people who went to Juneau to testify and the thousands of e-mails and phone calls they received were the result of some cabal out to get them to do the wrong thing and thus anger their real constituents. You know them, the ones who didn’t write, call or send an e-mail because they apparently didn’t care enough about any one topic to do that. These are the people the legislators are going back to see, I assume with the hope that they can find at least five or six constituents who agree with them. These few will then be touted as proof that the legislature is, in fact, carrying out the will of the people. Not necessarily the will of the majority of people, but nonetheless, actual and verifiable people.
Now if I was really a cynic, I’d think that they were also coming back to their districts to talk to their money people and figure out whether they should continue along a path that may lead to political suicide in future elections or should they throw a bone to the majority of Alaska’s citizens and add a few million to the education budget. I hate being that cynical though. I’d honestly prefer to think they wanted the break so they could be home on Mother’s Day.  But no matter how hard I try, I can’t buy into that scenario.
I wonder why we have all these methods of communicating our wishes if our legislators don’t believe what we say or write. It seems that instead of believing what they didn’t want to hear, the legislators thought they’d take a two-week holiday to see if people might forget or change their minds in the interim.
I don’t know about your mothers, but in my home if I’d approached my chores the way Alaska’s legislature approaches their tasks, I would still be grounded in my childhood bedroom until I learned the meaning of actually completing work. My Saturday morning job, before I could go out and play, was to wash the kitchen, dining room and bathroom floors. Now that is not as cruel as it might sound to modern ears since we lived in a small apartment over dad’s grocery store. But nonetheless, I resented doing it and tried more than once to do a quick and ultimately sloppy job so I could go join my friends. My mother very quickly taught me that the job wasn’t done until it was done correctly and I wasn’t going anywhere until that occurred.
It’s too bad my mother has passed on. It sounds like she had a lesson to teach that our legislators need to learn.

Elise Patkotak • 03:13 AM •
Wednesday, May 06, 2015

From Bird TLC… this is about the mallard found with the dart in his neck.
We will be releasing the Mallard at Westchester Lagoon tomorrow (May 7) at 10:30am weather permitting. It is a public release and if you are available, we’d love to have you join us. What a lucky duck! The dart was easily removed, wounds have healed great, he received a partial bath to ensure waterproofing on his neck and he is good to go! Hope to see you all there!

Elise Patkotak • 04:59 PM •

Congratulations to our newly elected city mayor Ethan Berkowitz. In my heart I kinda knew he couldn’t lose but… as that great man once said, never underestimate the stupidity of the American voting public. So until the votes were counted and I was sure Amy wasn’t going to win, my stomach was in great upheaval. But now I know I don’t have to leave the state. There are enough people here who feel as I do about education and equality and health care to make Alaska the great state it should always be and to make Anchorage the great city it should always be.
So goodby to Mayor Dan Sullivan and his brilliant idea for solving our addiction problems by sending people to a program he read about in Alaska Airlines magazine. Way to do your research. And don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

Elise Patkotak • 10:54 AM •

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