Elise Patkotak

When 15-year-old Jose Vasquez found himself in a plane wreck 18 miles outside of Juneau with one person dead and three others seriously injured, he used skills he learned as a Boy Scout to save their lives . And now three people have another chance at life because he knew what to do...

Elise Patkotak

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 the people who vote the least complain the most. Many justify not voting by saying no candidate pleases them completely. If they can’t have a perfect candidate, then they just won’t vote at all...

Elise Patkotak

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...

Elise Patkotak

This is a story with disparate characters who eventually come together. The characters include me, a U.S. 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...

Elise Patkotak

If you want to know what you look like to friends and relatives when explaining that 20-below weather is not bad because it’s a dry cold, then pay close attention to their faces as they explain to you that 80-plus degrees with 3,000 percent humidity is good for your skin. No one is buying the other one’s story...

Elise Patkotak

Last week was one heck of a week, wasn’t it? The Affordable Care Act got upheld, marriage equality was extended to all people in this country, Obama sang "Amazing Grace" a cappella and actually pulled it off, and Bristol Palin proved the efficacy of the abstinence program she advocated for so long as they were paying her a lot of money. Yep, what a way to begin the summer. Alaska’s fires stopped making national headlines. Our earthquake was lost in the fog of funerals. Even Donald Trump’s insane rantings couldn’t get him front page coverage in the face of such formidable other headlines...

Elise Patkotak

Here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand why we always seem so surprised at the health care needs of veterans returning from wars. It’s not as though this is something new. Every war supplies us with heartbreaking pictures of veterans living in cardboard boxes on streets; of veterans pushing their legless bodies on wooden boards with wheels begging money; veterans reliving the nightmare of what they saw and what they endured to keep their homeland safe...

Elise Patkotak

It’s funny how progress gets made sometimes. We often don’t even recognize it as such until we stop and ponder the implications. On first hearing the news last week that same-sex couples receiving health benefits through the state employee system would now have to be married, my gut reaction was that this was just another effort to deny same-sex couples their rights. Then I remembered that same-sex couples have the same rights as anyone else to marry here, and I realized this requirement was progress...

Elise Patkotak

I am an ardent supporter of public broadcasting. Until last year, I had been on a board or commission for public broadcasting since my first stint at KBRW in Barrow in the late 1970s. I was there as public radio brought the Inupiaq language into the public sphere by broadcasting in Inupiaq as well as English. I listened as people from far-flung villages wished distant friends and relatives "Happy Birthday" on the birthday show. I anchored a show on Saturday mornings called "Discount Radio." Its motto was, “You get what you pay for, and I’m a volunteer.” This tamped down any expectations that I knew what to do when dead air went out over the airways because I had once again hit the wrong button...

Elise Patkotak

Anchorage in the summer likes to think of itself as a city of flowers. And it is. But it is also a city of sounds, sounds that we don’t hear in the winter because we close our doors and windows to the cold. But in the summer, we open those windows and the sounds of everyday life come rushing in.

Last night I lay in bed reading while outside I heard a train whistle, kids playing and yelling to each other, dogs barking, lawn mowers roaring, birds singing -- compared to winter in my house, it was a cacophony of sounds. It brought me back to my childhood, to the days when not everyone had air conditioners, but just about everyone had windows to open to the street. Our windows overlooked the main street in our neighborhood...

Elise Patkotak

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