Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Saturday, April 04, 2015

I slept last night with two warm furry bodies pushed up against me and it was cold enough to appreciate their warmth. And this morning I woke up to parrots calling me to feed them. The sounds of home. Comforting.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:42 AM •
Friday, April 03, 2015

This is clearly not the year I’ll win enough on the penny slots to buy that private island I’ve been eying. So I guess it’s back to Alaska and trying to earn a living legitimately. How boring.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:41 AM •
Thursday, April 02, 2015

It’s a heartbreaking story full of tragedy, sadness and pain. It’s the story of alcohol in Alaska, and specifically the attempts of people in small Alaskan villages to mitigate the damage by controlling the flow. Unfortunately, decades after the passage of Alaska’s local option laws, liquor in one form or another is available throughout Bush Alaska. And the pictures on the front page of this paper of people in Bethel speaking out against a liquor store just brought to mind once again how difficult a situation it is.

The reality is that people who want to drink will find something to drink. Alcohol can be found in all sorts of places that you and I would probably not look. I’ve seen people mixing coke with aftershave lotion and with cleaning products like Pine Sol. People will make homemade liquor or risk jail time to bring liquor back home with them. Alcohol is a potent addiction and no amount of wet, damp, dry laws will ever be stronger than that need for one more drink before bed.
Those of us who lived in Bush Alaska watched this drama play out over the years with difficult to assess results. There are those who say that going dry just pushes the problem underground. There are those who say that we can’t calculate a negative, i.e. we can’t know what tragedies didn’t occur because a village was dry. The truth is that prohibition has never really worked well in any iteration. Village corporations and village governments have looked at operating liquor stores in the past in order to capture some of the revenue that otherwise flows directly out of town to either legitimate retailers or bootleggers. To say that this creates a level of tension and conflict almost impossible to really gauge is to put it mildly.
Controlling the flow of liquor into a village is difficult when village borders are so porous. One village may be dry and the one down river may be damp and the one a few miles in the other direction may be wet. All those villages are connected by boat or skidoo as well as by plane. Keeping liquor out of a village is impossible.
For many, the idea that their local government or corporation will be responsible for the liquor in their village is anathema. They view alcohol as the root of most of the evil they deal with in their communities. Having that liquor sold by an entity to which they belong seems very, very wrong. But that same entity, be it a village corporation looking to provide its members with an annual dividend or a village council looking for a revenue stream that will allow it to provide needed public services, finds it hard to accept that all the money involved in the liquor trade is bypassing them. If the money is going to be spent on liquor anyway, why shouldn’t they get a cut of the profits that they can then put it to good use in their communities?
So the debate continues. Villages all over Alaska go from wet to dry to damp and back again as people struggle to find some accommodation with a substance that is seemingly an intractable part of their lives. The pain heard in the voices of those opposing its legitimate sale in a village is real. The pain that alcohol abuse causes every year in these villages is staggering. But isn’t that just the point? Even when the sale of alcohol is illegal, it’s still there in vast quantities, affecting the quality of life for every family in that village.
During almost thirty years in Barrow, I watched the town jump from one status to another with monotonous frequency. When it went dry, there would be a sudden drop in alcohol related crimes. And then, inexorably, the statistics would start to climb back up again as alternative methods of importation were accessed.
I hope the people of Bethel come to some resolution on this issue that does not leave the town as angry and divided as some wet/dry/damp campaigns I’ve seen in the past. I hope even more that they find a way to deal with the problems of substance abuse in their villages because, like death and taxes, you are guaranteed that so long as someone wants it badly enough, alcohol will appear in the driest of communities.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:35 AM •
Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Surely there is one slot machine in this whole damn city that will at least give me the illusion of winning before taking all my money. Surely…

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I love Vegas. I hate heat. It is hot in Vegas this week. Not hot by Vegas standards but sure in hell hot by Alaska standards. I may never go outside this whole week. I’m so glad so many of these casinos are connected so I never have to breathe fresh air. Fresh hot air is no fun at all.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:38 AM •
Monday, March 30, 2015

Off for my girls’ annual week in Vegas. Going during Holy Week and Passover guarantees cheap rooms and lots of seats at the penny slots. Yea for agnostics and atheists! 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Sunday, March 29, 2015

He could make that thing on his head vice president and we’d save an entire salary.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let the panic about leaving my animals with a new sitter begin now!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 10:44 AM •
Friday, March 27, 2015

Remember when the crazies were the fringe candidates and not mainstream. Ah memories…

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:43 AM •
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Despite getting every immunization known to man and recommended for people of a certain age, I came down with a nasty bug and spent most of last week rewriting my will and deciding that life was not worth living if it included feeling so awful. Then I woke up one day and decided that maybe I did want to live. That morning the world seemed sunny and bright. That feeling of euphoria lasted right up until I saw the paper and read that the Republican Senate had released its proposed federal budget. Part of the spending package they proposed included defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Look, I understand about being a bit annoyed when something happens that you don’t like or are opposed to. After all, I lived through the seventies. I also understand trying to change things when possible. But the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Based on that definition, the Republicans putting forward this budget are completely nuts. If you or I told our boss that the plan we were handing in for the new year contained the exact same objectionable line that sank it last year, our boss would want to know what she was paying us for and what we’d done with all our time. If nothing else had changed in the course of the year to make the outcome different, why were we wasting her time?
This is exactly what we should be saying to the Republicans in the Senate. Whether they approve or not, Barack Obama is still president and still has veto power. Whether they approve or not, they still do not have a veto override majority in the Senate. So whether or not they like it, Obama will veto any bill that comes to him with the intent of defunding his signature health care law and they will not be able to override that veto – which means the whole bloody mess will have been in vain. We will be back at square one with nothing to show for it except some video clips for Republicans to use when running for re-election to prove to their Tea Party brethren they tried.
As their titular bosses, we should be outraged at this waste of taxpayers’ time and money on a useless exercise they knew way in advance would go nowhere. Aside from making brownie points with their ultra conservative base, they have done nothing productive towards creating a sustainable budget that keeps our economy growing while reducing the national debt.
And please, I an not an idiot. Balancing the budget based on revenues expected to be received through the very law they are trying to kill is the kind of math I used to do in 3rd grade when I still didn’t understand how math worked. Or did you miss that line in the budget? Yep, in one section of the document they defund the Affordable Care Act while a few pages later, they use the projected revenue from that law to balance their budget. They are also trying to end run budget constraints on the military by dumping money in a separate account for war that won’t raise the legally mandated ceiling on military spending. Sister Gaetano would keep them all after school for a basic math refresher course plus a few words about ethics and their place in our modern system of government.
Maybe I simply have less patience than I did a week ago. Maybe being sick has warped my normally sunny disposition. But I am sick and tired of the posturing in front of the cameras that passes for governing in today’s DC. It doesn’t matter if something makes sense or is critical to our future. If we can play it for the crowds back home so that it helps us get re-elected, than nothing else matters.
Republicans spend a lot of time demonizing government employees as lazy workers sucking off the tit of government while waiting to retire with some very sweet benefits after a career of nothingness. Sounds to me like the perfect definition of a group of senators who propose useless legislation that is nothing more than a big waste of time. I guess the reason Republicans are so good at their definition of government employees is because the definition is so familiar to them. They are defining themselves.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:34 AM •
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Battle Creek

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:31 AM •
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Iditarod musher Allie Zirkle agreed to take on California lawyer Grace Jiu in an arm wrestling contest in Nome shortly after completing this year’s race. It took very few seconds for her to accidentally break Jiu’s arm. But guess what? Defying all odds and expectations… especially given that a lawyer was involved… no one is suing anyone over this incident. No one is bad mouthing anyone. No one is, in effect, acting like a spoiled brat whose parents have told her that the world owes her everything. Nope. What we have here are two decent adults treating each other decently. It was an accident. Imagine. An accident. I didn’t think anything so simple existed in today’s world where stubbing your toe outside a building gives you cause to sue the building for toe trauma.
Way to go, ladies. Keeping it classy!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:27 AM •
Monday, March 23, 2015
image

,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,,
,
,
.
,
,
,,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •
Sunday, March 22, 2015
image

Ever since BuddaBubba crossed the Rainbow Bridge he’s been even more anxious about me not leaving him. Usually he loves doggie day care and runs to the back room the minute I bring him in to the facility. But since BB left us, he moves more slowly down the hallway and continually looks back at me as though he’s afraid I’m going to leave him there forever. I guess there is no cure but to bring him there and pick him up often enough for him to again believe he is in his forever home and I will never leave him anywhere without coming back.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Saturday, March 21, 2015

I think anyone who gives a pet of any kind a home and love is a special person. But dog people are even a cut above that. They are simply wonderful. And when you lose your canine friend, they wrap you in such fierce love and understanding that it helps the pain subside more quickly than you could have possibly imagined. Thank you to everyone who let me know they understood how much of a loss it is when that sweet face is no longer in your life.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:54 AM •

Page 2 of 244 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »

Subscribe to My RSS Feed: RSS 2.0