Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
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 •
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nothing. Just nothing.

Elise Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I keep trying to retire and I can’t figure out if it’s because I can’t say no or simply am too stupid to figure out how, but 15 years later and I’m still trying. That’s just wrong.

Elise Patkotak • 03:31 AM •
Monday, July 27, 2015

Please, oh please Donald, run as an independent when you don’t get the Republican nomination. Do it for those of us who earn our dogs’ treat money from writing about the world in which we live and why we so often find it absurdly amusing. Without you, it will just be a race of the regular crazies. With you… well, with you, it climbs to a whole new level of insanity that I have a feeling I will thoroughly enjoy while piously condemning.

Elise Patkotak • 03:19 AM •
Sunday, July 26, 2015

...this is my response. Thank you Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken - Poem by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

Elise Patkotak • 03:31 AM •
Saturday, July 25, 2015

I can’t function in that kind of heat so that’s my excuse for no entry yesterday… and I’m sticking to it.

Elise Patkotak • 03:31 AM •
Thursday, July 23, 2015

When Donald Trump entered the presidential race I reacted as many columnists did. We tried to suppress our glee. But he keeps crossing lines that make me feel as though the fun we’re having watching this blowhard is now tainted by the nasty, ugly content of his message and, perhaps even more troubling, the acceptance of that ugliness by way too many people.

Donald Trump comes from the same part of the world in which I originated so I am perhaps more familiar with his type of bloviated ego and strange hair than others. The first casino he opened in Atlantic City was about two blocks from my childhood home. His name, in huge red letters, lit up my mother’s living room. She called it her nightlight as it definitely took the darkness away. But then she sent him a letter asking if he was interested in our property and he declined the offer. My mother posted that letter on her bulletin board. From that day until she died, she never mentioned his name without looking like she was about to spit but was too ladylike to do that.
For all his bragging about how rich and successful he is, Trump’s first casino in Atlantic City was also one of the first to close down. By then his partners had pretty much pushed him out the door for dragging the property towards bankruptcy. His only remaining connection was his name on the property, which I assume was left there because it would have been too expensive to remove those gigantic letters on the side of the hotel. His other casino, Trump’s Taj Mahal, is about to close. He managed to drag that towards bankruptcy too until forced out by his partners.
So the reality is that Trump has gone bankrupt on more than one occasion. The reality is that Trump’s claims of wealth are greatly exaggerated and only come close to reality if he uses the kind of creative accounting that most CPA’s frown on because they don’t want to go to jail. Now this orange faced, straw haired piece of East Coast braggadocio has decided that he has the right to call John McCain’s military service into question. Has this man no shame at all? And exactly what branch of the military did he serve in?
Whether you like John McCain or not, his military service cannot be denied. He fought when his country asked him to fight. He spent five years in a prison because he wouldn’t leave his fellow servicemen behind. He showed more courage and moral strength in one day during his captivity than Donald Trump has shown in his whole life. Trump’s service to his country has consisted of building golf courses with the crass taste and extravagant gilding that only the most Kardashian-like of the gaudily rich could possibly appreciate.
This man is, quite frankly, a national embarrassment. He treats other countries as though they are employees he can fire at will. He insults neighbors and allies with his insane rants. He makes statements about building walls and bombing countries that should make any sane person shudder with fear. The worse part of all is that he is once again inciting an ugly part of the American electorate who want to go back to a world in which white is supreme and all other colors exist to serve it.
That world never really existed except in the feverish imagination of some very unhappy and disenfranchised people, and in the jaded pitch of this ugly little man who apparently doesn’t care what hate he stirs up so long as he gets his picture in the paper and his voice on the news.
I can only hope that his run is short and the hate he is peddling doesn’t reach a wide audience. I know he doesn’t stand a chance in a national election but that’s not the point. The point is that between now and then, he can incite the type of rancor and anger that only does a disservice to our electoral process.
He truly is just a man without a moral or ethical compass who will do anything to get noticed. It would be best for America if we all stopped noticing so he shuts up. He needs to be written off the national stage sooner rather than later. Even I’m embarrassed for the Republicans.

Elise Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Let’s see how we’re doing on the old bucket list.  We’ve had an African American president, gays can marry, pot is legal, and we may very well elect our first female president in 2016. Now if someone would just open up a hole to hell and drop Donald Trump into it, my bucket list would be very near completion.

Elise Patkotak • 03:46 AM •
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You know you’re in trouble when former Texas Governor Rick Perry starts looking like a reasonable and intelligent candidate given the rest of the field of candidates.

Elise Patkotak • 03:33 AM •
Monday, July 20, 2015

Remember how in the song she goes back to the car to get his high school ring and dies? I used to think that was so romantic and sad. Now I just think, “Idiot!”

Elise Patkotak • 03:11 AM •
Sunday, July 19, 2015

I brought my car in for an oil change and ended up with a fourteen hundred dollar gasket or head or something job. Had my deck pressure washed only to find out I need about $500 in replacements for wood that is rotting. Every time I wash my dishes, there is a stream of water from the washer onto the floor. I do’t even want to think about it. That’s why god made mops.

Elise Patkotak • 03:46 PM •
Saturday, July 18, 2015

When you consider that the Republicans made it their only goal in life to defeat everything Barack Obama tried to do, I think Obama deserves big kudos for getting as much done as he has. Too bad our politicians can’t figure out a way to work together again but instead view the system as some ancient gladiatorial contest in which one must die and one emerge victorious. How pathetic has our supposed democracy become when the only goal is to defeat the president as opposed to what might be best for the country. Just sad.

Elise Patkotak • 03:31 AM •
Friday, July 17, 2015
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Snowy, having been apparently traumatized by my long absence, has decided no one else is ever allowed to pack a suitcase and leave this house without him. Unfortunately, Janis couldn’t take him to Dutch Harbor with her so he was booted out of the suitcase but compensated with many, many, many treats.
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Elise Patkotak • 03:51 AM •
Thursday, July 16, 2015

This is a story with disparate characters who eventually come together. The characters include me, a Marine and Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines gets mentioned because coming home to them after flying on other carriers is like climbing back into mom’s womb.

But let’s start at the beginning. I was flying from Philadelphia to San Diego on United with a plane change in Houston. A thunderstorm was in full roar as we boarded the flight to San Diego. We sat on the runway for four hours waiting to take off during which time United offered us each one cookie and a glass of water. Then we were informed we’d be going back to the gate because we needed more gas. We sat at the gate for another hour only to have the pilot announce they’d had a problem with the gas tank and so fueling had taken longer than expected and now the flight crew had run out of time and needed to change.
We were all asked to de-plane but stay in the boarding area as a new pilot and co-pilot were on the way and we’d be departing within the half hour. Two hours later someone noticed that the sign over the door now read, “Los Angeles”. We asked the lady at the counter where our San Diego flight was. She told us she was off duty, picked up her purse and left. We asked the man who came to the counter a few minutes later. He told us he was there to board the LA flight and had no knowledge of any San Diego flight. Turns out the flight had been canceled but United had felt no need to announce that at our gate. We were pointed towards customer service. 
The customer service line snaked around three blocks. That’s where the Marine comes in. I wish I’d gotten his name but I was too woozy from no food, exhaustion and the sneaky feeling that a hypertensive diabetic under stress was not able to make the best decisions for her welfare. Crying in the bathroom stall didn’t help. But that Marine did. I don’t know if I reminded him of his grandmother or he was just a Marine doing what he’s trained to do – protect and defend. I don’t think I ever more felt like I needed a strong arm to lean on as I did eight hours into this nightmare day at the Houston airport.
He told me to follow him to a counter where we got booked on standby for a future flight without the long wait in the customer service line. He got me back to a seat in the waiting area and stayed close. When they announced that our gate had changed from C33 to E17, he didn’t rush ahead of the crowd to get there first but walked at a pace I could maintain and kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I was ok.
The day continued endlessly with the flight being delayed again and again. My Marine got off standby and got a ticket immediately as an active duty military in uniform. He deserved it. Every time I felt like just dropping everything and crying in the middle of the terminal, I looked up and saw this nice young man watching to make sure I was going to be ok.
To all Marines everywhere, Semper Fi! You guys rock. To this one Marine in particular, you made my day of horror a day to remember for your kindness. If this is what the Marines are teaching our young men and women in uniform, then you are doing an amazing job.
Now this is the part of the story where Alaska Airlines comes in. After traveling on an airline that clearly felt no need to make announcements, help travelers or even pretend to be nice, getting on Alaska Airlines two days later was like coming home. Staff smiled. Announcements were made. You were kept informed of what was happening. Flight attendants acted as though they actually liked their job. I know people have occasional problems with Alaska Airlines. They are not perfect. But once you’ve traveled on some other airlines, you come to realize just how special Alaska Airlines really is.
The takeaway of this story? They don’t treat liberals nicely in Texas, Marines rock and Alaska Airlines owns my heart.

Elise Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The more he climbs in the Republican polls, the more I find myself practicing saying “President Clinton”. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Democrats contributing to his campaign in the hope he gets the nomination.

Elise Patkotak • 03:33 AM •

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