Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Saturday, June 30, 2012

Every once in a while I realize Vanna White is 55 years old. And then I get very, very depressed.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Friday, June 29, 2012

Am I the only one who thinks the Supremes ruling on the health care bill was the court’s way of trying to make amends for their Citizen’s United ruling?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Did you notice that when the ADN started to cut back on its printed edition, the metro, business and lifestyle sections all disappeared as stand alone parts of the paper but sports continues to hold its own? There’s a reason for that. In this country, sports is king. Nothing else matters as much. Nothing. We don’t need extensive coverage of anything else so long as we have sports scores available 24/7.

This year, despite drowning in revenues, neither the Alaska state legislature nor the governor could find any money for additional breakfasts at school for low-income kids or to provide more health care coverage for those same families through Denali Kid Care. Yet somehow, $2 million (later, after public outcry, reduced to $1.5 million) was found to provide Alaskans living off the road system with what amounted to basically free plane tickets and admission to the Great Alaska Shootout.
When this news hit the paper, I waited in vain for all those conservative legislators who think state government is too big and spends too much to come unglued. Where’s their outcry about the nanny state? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the demand that the governor be investigated for approving this ridiculous expenditure? There is nothing but a huge void of silence that will soon be filled, I assume, with cheers from their seats at the Shootout.
I’ve spent enough time in this state to understand that saying anything negative about sports, and especially about basketball, is apt to get you an invitation for a one-way trip onto the tundra. I’ve watched the Daily News plaster the front page above the fold with the grand deeds and accomplishments of our various basketball teams while international wins by our college debate teams are lucky to get a blurb on page 3. I lived in Barrow when the band had to raise all its own funds to be able to get to national competitions that they routinely won while the basketball team had a travel budget that would have choked a horse. I get it. Sports is king.
Yet I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a point where a reasonable person has to say enough. The idea of funding college scholarships is still being debated in our legislature but a line item signing away $2 million dollars that basically will benefit Alaska Airlines and UA sports gets inserted into a bill and approved by the governor with no input at all. Because, really, why would you need input? It’s basketball. That’s all that needs to be said.
It seems there is always money for sports, and if there isn’t, there is always a legislator who will be happy to drop a line in an appropriations bill to get it. And no one will say a word. Not one other legislator will challenge the line item because you have to have a death wish to challenge the supremacy of sports. The fact that academics should, in fact, be supreme in a university has become almost laughable. Class sizes are enlarged, courses are dropped and tuitions rise with no money to fund scholarships, but money for free trips and tickets to the Great Alaska Shootout are not a problem.
Heck, how much more do you want for the Shootout?  Because all you have to do is ask. Just make sure none of that money goes towards poor people and their nutritional or health care needs because that will bring conservatives out roaring over wasteful government spending. Unless, of course, that poor kid has a good jump shot or throwing arm. Then we’ll find all the scholarship money and free meals he needs to put our team on the national sports map.
The moral here seems to be that so long as its sports, state money can be found. If it’s for academics, we need years to debate whether that’s a wise use of our state funds. And if a kid has to take it for the team, has to go hungry for the day or miss out on a well child checkup because there’s no money available, well so be it. If he wants the state to pay for him, then he should get with the program and become an athlete instead of a neuroscientist.
Yes sir, here in Alaska we have our funding priorities straight.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One minute I am walking down the road with two of the sweetest, most wonderfulest dogs in the world and the next minute - actually, approximately six seconds after they spot another dog anywhere on the road - I am holding on to two crazed, barking, snarling, insane creatures who think (totally unaccountably) that despite the fact that together they don’t weigh as much as the dog approaching, they can take him or her on and take him or her down. Thank god most of the big dogs we run into on our walk are A. on leash and B. so busy looking with total disbelief at the scene in front of them that they don’t react. Pray god we don’t run into a moose they think they can take down.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:16 AM •
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I could look into the mirror at what has become of my body… which wasn’t the greatest to begin with… and get depressed. Or I can look at the two dogs sitting patiently on either side of me, staring adoringly up at a physique that would make John Candy hang his head in shame and know that it doesn’t matter to the two critters that most matter to me. No matter what shape my body, they will climb in bed and happily curl up next to me and keep me warm and comforted all night. Or, at least, as much of the night as they let me have a part of the bed. It really is amazing how much space two such small dogs seem to need, especially when you consider that they nap while curled up together and perched on the back of my couch.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:43 AM •
Monday, June 25, 2012

You know you’re over the top about public broadcasting when you get angry if you don’t time your car errands to coincide with your favorite program so you can listen to it while you drive. You are even more of an insane public broadcasting fan when you sit in the parking lot of your grocery store waiting for Marketplace to end and then try to grab your groceries and get back to the car before Fresh Air begins.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Sunday, June 24, 2012
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:33 AM •
Saturday, June 23, 2012

When the sun is out, my dogs spend their entire time on the second floor deck following the sun around, snoring contentedly in its warmth, moving only when the sun has moved a little away from them and, even then, using the minimal amount of energy needed to pull their limp bodies over into the full sun again. Given my aversion to sun, heat and sunbathing, and my sister’s fairly slavish devotion to it, I’m thinking I should send them to Atlantic City for the summer so they can sun bathe with her for a few months.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:10 AM •
Friday, June 22, 2012

Pants without pockets. What’s the point?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:42 AM •
Thursday, June 21, 2012

At Bird TLC, Anchorage’s wild bird rehab center, summer is baby bird season. Each year we open our doors to little ones of every type, variety, color and maturation level. The babies come to us either because their mother was killed or they were separated from their nest mates for some reason. Sometimes people bring them in to us as they are fledging because they don’t realize the mom is still around and holding the birdie equivalent of driving lessons with her young ones. Sometimes a tree is taken down and then a nest full of little ones is discovered in it. Or perhaps someone let their cat out and it caught a young bird just figuring out how to fly. And, of course, we get flocks of goslings and ducklings whose mothers were accidentally killed while crossing the road.

Then there are the orphans that arrive because a kind person was driving behind an evil person and watched as that evil person swerved to deliberately kill the mother and her flock. The kind person was the one who picked up what remained alive of the little family and brought them to us to try and raise as best we can.
Every time this happens – and it seems we get orphans in at least once or twice each season because someone deliberately killed the mother – I find myself wondering what kind of horrible person you have to be to see some helpless creatures crossing a road and deliberately aim your car to kill them.  Do you get a rush when you do it? Do you feel powerful? Do you get a jolt of pleasurable hormones that normally occur only during sex? 
I lived for a long time in a hunting culture. Killing animals for food is what people do to survive. Even those of us living in cities whose meat comes packaged and inspected are responsible for killing animals because they wouldn’t be killed if we didn’t eat them. I get that our connection to some in the animal world is a connection that involves their death for our survival.
But for the life of me, I will never understand the coward who uses a multi-ton vehicle to run down some helpless little critters whose lives have barely begun.
I guess I’m lucky because the people I hang with are the people who show up as volunteers 365 days of the year to care for these smallest of god’s creatures. They are the ones who swerve to the side of the road to rescue a wounded bird, not mow it down.
Given the number of birds brought in to us by people who want nothing more than to know that we will somehow be able to care for and heal the little ball of fluff they found in their backyard, it is clear that the good guys outnumber the bad guys. I’m not sure I’d want to wake up everyday in a world where that wasn’t true.
A society that cares for the least of its members is a society that exhibits the finest of human qualities and creates an environment in which we can all feel safe and protected. I’m not sure that outside of Eden that world ever completely existed but I’m sure the more we strive towards that perfection, the better off we’ll be.
People who deliberately abuse animals are very likely to abuse people too. Mostly they abuse people who, like the animals they torture, are too weak or small to defend themselves – think women and children. They do it for an amazingly wide variety of reasons, from their own childhood abuse to just being plain old bullies. In the end, what they mostly do is make our world a meaner, nastier place while acting out their cowardly assaults on anything they are pretty sure can’t hit back.
The world is full of people who pick up the injured remains of a flock deliberately mowed down by some spineless jerk and go out of their way to get them somewhere they will get care. If we’re lucky, these people will continue to outnumber the cowardly bullies. As for that car that swerved to kill that mom and her brood, you have my sympathy for the horrible world you must inhabit.
Please, stay out of mine.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last week I made chicken soup, my go to food for cold winter days. You can understand that summer wasn’t seeming that much different from winter at that point and I figured I might as well give in to the crappy weather and make soup. That night the sun came out and stayed out.
Fair warning, Anchorage. The chicken soup is finished. Let the rain and wind commence.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:40 AM •
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

While walking the dogs this weekend, came up on a cow moose and a very, very, very newborn calf. Couldn’t have been more than a couple of days old. We’d been warned by a passing driver that there was one in the vicinity and to be careful as she was being aggressive. I looked at the size of the calf she’d had to push out her bottom with no spinal or any drugs and thought, “Hell, I’d be a bit testy too at this point.”

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:10 AM •
Monday, June 18, 2012

Does Mitt Romney wear boxers or briefs? I don’t know why I feel it necessary to know that, but I do.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:15 AM •
Sunday, June 17, 2012

My two dogs spent most of yesterday morning lounging on the second deck, following the sun around. At one point, I looked out and saw Bubba dragging herself around to get more squarely into the sun. Apparently she didn’t want to put the effort into actually getting up to move. Ah those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer… even if we only have one or two a year.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •
Saturday, June 16, 2012

When my aunt died recently, I had to buy something to wear to the funeral. Since I was back East, this ended up being something we refer to in my circle of friends as “Judy approved” clothing. The other term for it would be “an actually nice outfit”.
Since returning home, I’ve worn it at least four times to a variety of events for which I would have otherwise been… well, let’s just say, not so nicely dressed.
So it seems as though even in death my aunt continues to give to me by being the impetus behind this year’s go-to outfit for any occasion in which I can’t get away with a sweatshirt no matter how new it is.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:25 AM •

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