Monday, December 31, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: The 411 On AAA Tipsy Tow; No Membership Required!

Dear Readers:

Tonight is New Year's Eve, a traditional party night across the globe. Please party safely! If you drink, don't drive; if you drive, don't drink. It really is that simple. Even one drink can affect your ability to effectively operate a motor vehicle.

Nobody wants to leave their car halfway across town and have to retrieve it the next morning, which is why the American Auto Association - AAA - offers the services of it's Tipsy Tow program. from 6PM local time New Year's Eve to 6AM local time New Year's Day you cal call 1-800-AAA-HELP and get a free ride home, complete with a free tow for your vehicle. Now you have no excuse to drive after drinking, or to ride with someone who has been drinking. Call for a ride!

For your convenience, a cut-and-save, pocket-sized information sheet is below. Please print it out before you go out this evening, readers!

Tipsy Tow is not available in all areas, so plan accordingly!


P.S. Thank you to Matt G. of Oregon for passing on this important information!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tazi's Corner #25 - Applaud Yourself

Dear Readers,

Lately I have been pondering why humans make New Year’s Resolutions to improve themselves. Being a cat, I see myself as perfect just the way I am; if there is room for improvement anywhere I certainly cannot see it! My humans walk into the house and the first thing they do is seek me out; guests enter and the first thing they as is “Where’s Tazi?” (Actually, they ask “Where’s Tazi-ookums the little snuggly baby-waby kitty?” Apparently, I am cuter than even I give myself credit for being!).

My point is that I see no need to change when the people in my life love me just the way I am! Oh, certainly I could stand to lose three pounds, but that extra weight serves a very important purpose – it makes me too heavy to be hauled off by an eagle or a hawk; both are raptors that regularly stalk my neighbor, Bentley the Chihuahua. Sometimes, being a little chubby can be good for your health!

Too chubsy is not a good thing, though!
As the New Year approaches, dear readers, I am going to ask you to try and see your life through the eyes of those who love you – specifically your pets. Dog owners, do you know why your pooch runs to the door and wags crazily every time you walk through it? It is because he loves you so much that he cannot contain all of that emotion inside! El Perro wants you to know that you are the most important person in the world to him and that he loves you just the way you are!

Your dog does not care if you drive a late model vehicle or an old clunker; he only cares about whether or not you take him with you when you drive away in it and that you drive safely enough to guarantee that you will return to him in a healthy condition. Your dog does not care if your clothes are the latest fashions; he does not care if you are overweight or underweight or somewhere in between; nor does he care about the balance of your savings account. What your dog does care about is how you feel about yourself. Pets can sense their owners stress levels, and when our humans are stressed we stress, too. Do you really want to stress your pet over the trivial things that, at the end of the year, will not amount to a hill of beans?

Please don't drive us to drink! 

Cat owners; your feline companions may act aloof and snobby, but that is because we just don’t give a litter-box dropping for most of what concerns you. My Mommie frequently stresses to me about what to make for dinner. I don’t think she realizes that she is talking to someone who eats the same thing at every meal! I just cannot relate, and neither can your cat! Rather than pace the floor with worry, play with us! Throw a catnip mouse around the room and watch us tumble over our own selves as we try to retrieve it – within minutes, your stress will melt away and your relationship with your feline will improve! The sound of your laughter is good for our souls, too!

This year, rather than resolve to change what you see as the negative aspects of your life resolve to concentrate on what makes you special. Let’s face it: that twenty pounds you resolved to lose last year is probably not going to come off this year, either, so rather than get down about your weight try to concentrate on the aspects of your looks that you like. Do you have pretty eyes? Beautiful hair? A long, luxuriant tail? Oh, sorry…I forgot that humans lack this particular appendage. Concentrate not on what you see as a negative, but on the positive. Your brighter outlook will change the way others see you, too!

Most important of all, resolve to applaud yourself every day. That’s right, I said applaud yourself! This is an idea I got years ago from the motivational speaker Loretta Laroche, and I have to say that it works! If, in this new year, you find that you are feeling down on yourself, think of a reason to applaud yourself! Emptied the dishwasher rather than pretend you didn’t realize the dishes were clean? Applaud yourself! Folded the laundry as soon as it was done instead of leaving it in the dryer all day? Applaud yourself! Having a good hair day? Applaud yourself! Throw your hands in the air and let out a great big “YAY ME!”; trust me, it will make you feel great and it doesn’t cost a single penny!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Permanent Weight Loss Requires Discipline, Commitment, and Exercise

Dear Tazi,

I am extremely obese and am not happy with the way that I look. I am barely five feet tall and weigh over 330 pounds. My weight is causing me medical problems such as asthma and diabetes. I tried taking up smoking because I have been told it speeds up your metabolism, but all it did was aggravate my asthma. I want to change but do not know how.

Every year around this time People magazine prints an issue about people who have lost half of their body weight and now look like beauty queens. My goal is to one day be featured in that annual article. I just don't know where to start. I have considered getting gastric bypass surgery, but I do not want to have to give up food completely. I tried the OptiFast diet and it did not work for that reason. I also hate exercise. It bores me, and the thought of going to a gym is upsetting; I am afraid that all the other people will stare at me because I am so huge.

Do you know of any way that I could lose weight without all of the discipline required to do so? I know this sounds lazy, but I am not. I am just scared of being judged and getting easily discouraged because I am not progressing as quickly as I would like.

Big Bertha

Dear Big Bertha:

If you bother to read the articles in People magazine that you reference, you will notice that a proper diet and regular exercise are a large part of how those profiled lost the weight and kept it off for good. I doubt that you reached your current weight overnight, and it is going to take several months to lose it. This is just the cold reality of the matter. You will have to be disciplined enough to stick with a long-term diet and exercise regimen if you are serious about reaching a healthy weight.

Your first step should be in the direction of your primary care physician's office. He or she will be able to direct you to a qualified nutritionist who will teach you how to eat healthy, control your diabetes, and still lose weight at the same time. S/he should also order blood work to make sure your weight gain is not thyroid related. As for joining a gym, I suggest that you research local fitness clubs in your area. Many of them may offer programs tailored to the extremely obese and could be exactly what you are seeking. Furthermore, professional trainers specialize in working with people who need to lose 50% or more of their total body weight. Your local YMCA or Jewish Community Center is a great place to start your search.

If you are completely against joining a gym at this point, your home and neighborhood provide opportunities to exercise. The stairs in your house make for a great manual StairMaster and neighborhood parks make for excellent places to go walking. In time, you will find you enjoy the way exercise makes you feel and will become less self-conscious as the extra pounds start to fall off of your body.

In order to be featured in People magazine, you will have to keep the weight off for a minimum of one full year, so you will have to remain committed to your new disciplined lifestyle if you wish to see your dream realized. I wish you all the luck in the world! Please keep me updated as to your progress.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Babysitter Who Sees More Than She Should Must Now Make A Difficult Choice

Dear Tazi:

I am sixteen years old and have a problem that I have never had to face before. I live in a good neighborhood. Most would call it upper-middle class, but we work hard for our money and do not live extravagantly (as my mother says) which is how we can afford our nice neighborhood.

There are two little girls who live across the street from me, "Kelly" and "Elaina". I babysit for Kelly, and can tell you first hand that her parents live beyond their means. I see late notices in their mail every month (they leave them out on the kitchen counter) and the phone is always ringing with bill collectors on the other end of the line. This is important to mention because it proves the lies that they are telling - lies that have put me in a problem spot.

Elaina's family is financially comfortable, from what I hear. They do not flaunt their wealth, but are very generous with others. Elaina's birthday is a month before Christmas, and her parents bought her a brand new pink two-wheeler. It is a very nice bike, and I oohed and ahhed over it when she showed it off to me. I also saw Kelly act very jealous towards Elaina's new bike and she said that she was going to get one just like it for Christmas.

Tazi, two weeks before Christmas I was stuck inside with the flu and I happened to be looking out the window when I saw Kelly go into Elaina's garage and come out with the new bicycle. I thought she was just borrowing it and didn't make a big deal out if it until the next day when a police officer came to my door to ask if I had seen anything suspicious. The bike had been reported stolen! I didn't know what to say, so I just said that I had been inside sick with the flu for the past week.

The next day, Kelly was flaunting "her" new bike, saying her Nana from out-of-state had sent it to her as an early Christmas gift.  When I mentioned how generous a gift the bike was to Kelly's mother, she shrugged and quickly changed the subject. Tazi, I cannot believe that Kelly's parents would be so low as to allow their child to steal another kid's bike and pretend that it was a gift! I would love to go to the police and tell them what I saw, but then I would be out of a babysitting job, which I really need. On the other hand, I am not comfortable babysitting for people who would allow their child to steal.

As of now, I have not done anything. Elaina has not seen Kelly with "her" new bike, so I don't think she knows what has happened. Obviously, this will not stay secret forever and when Kelly is seen with Elaina's bike things are going to get ugly. Should I just leave well enough alone and hope the problem solves itself? Or should I report what I saw to the police?

Bicycle Blues

Dear Bicycle Blues:

I understand that you need your babysitting job, but how long do you think it will be before these people try to cheat you? They have already proven themselves capable of stealing from a child. Do you still trust them to do right by you? If you are not careful, your bill for services rendered may be the next "past due" notice they receive when they run out of money to pay you.

If I were you, I would contact the police and tell them what you saw. You may be allowed to remain anonymous, especially if the people involved crumple when confronted with their crime. if, however, they choose to stand by their story an investigation will take place - there will be a paper trail of the gift charges and delivery - and your story may be needed to bolster the truth.

As difficult as it can be to stand up for what is right, in the end it will help you. If you try to hide the crimes of others, you may develop a reputation of being untrustworthy, whereas if you come clean you reputation will shine, which could lead to new and better babysitting opportunities.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tazi's Christmas Newsletter

Dear Readers,

A Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

I have discovered that it is the time of year that Christmas newsletters fill the mailbox (I have even received a few in my mailbox, from those who know my home address, and my email, from those who do not. I thank all of you who thought of me!). I hate feeling left out of your human traditions, so I have decided to write my own Christmas newsletter and share it with you here! I meant to publish it a few weeks ago, but it kept getting bumped by what my Editor called "more important stuff".  What could be more important than the cat, I don't know, but here we go...

free logo -

Holiday Greetings to One and All!

It has been a busy year here at the Tazi-Kat household! As you all know, I FINALLY got Mommie to follow my orders and assist me in the typing of an online advice column.  Ask Tazi! has taken off as a fun and popular venture, although not as profitable as I have hoped – I am still dependent upon the humans to purchase my kitty snax, but one day soon I hope to see financial independence from the advertising revenues.

Soon, very soon, this pig will be full of treat money for ME!!!!!

In other big news, this was the year that I figured out how to escape the fenced backyard! The humans thought that they had plugged up all of the holes under the fence, but I found one in the corner by the back of the deck. It is a tight squeeze (maybe Mommie is right about me needing to lose weight) but I manage. One of these days, I will learn how to climb trees and then over the fence I will go! I did try this once, but got myself stuck and had to meow for help. How embarrassing was that?

Not quite this embarrassing, but embarrassing enough!
We had a mild winter here in Southern New England, for which I was quite grateful after the six-foot snowdrifts I experienced in Winter 2010; I learned the hard way that snow, unlike the ground beneath it, is not solid. Since the white stuff was too deep for me to move my legs, I had to be rescued by the humans; they made me spend the rest of the winter indoors, deprived of squirrels to chase! 

No laughing at my humiliation, please!

Thankfully, this past winter was much different and I spent most of it outside romancing the local lady cats. Speaking of lady cats, I found me a new Lady Friend this year! She is a stunning grey and white short-hair who knows how to climb over a fence without getting stuck! How fortuitous!

This past spring – or was it summer? A cat’s days blend one into the other…anyway, as I was saying; I managed to catch not one but TWO live chipmunks and brought them into the house to play! Mommie was not overly happy with this development, and I cannot understand why! I brought her a chipmunk of her very own; she didn’t have to share! Next time I think I will try for a squirrel; chipmunks no longer hold the challenge they once did.

The biggest news of the year is that I promoted my Uncle-Person to Daddy! One morning this summer, the evil humans who supposedly care for me were demanding that I come inside before I was ready – something about how they had to go to that place where they earn money to buy me food – so they left me outside! It was going to rain, and my Uncle was the only one who cared enough to punch-out at work and come and let me in the house; he was promoted to Daddy later that day! I also have another new family member – Jingles the Mouse! I am not sure how much I like her; she lives in a clear glass tank so I can watch her but not play with her. What is the point of that?

In other news, the Mommie person continues to be neglectful of my litter boxes, only cleaning them every other day. My five food bowls could stand a little more attention…I discovered a new brand/flavor of food that I like, and am now refusing to eat any of my regular brand (unless I am really, really hungry; then I suffer through it), and no matter how many kitty snax I get, too much is never enough. I am learning how to understand Spanish, although I cannot speak it. I think more humans should learn how to speak “cat-ese”. You already meow at us; you could at least learn the meaning of what you are saying!

Well, that is all the excitement that is going on here! There is no Hubs to be promoted to partner in the law firm; no Biff the achieve straight-A’s at Harvard; no Muffy to be voted Student Government President or Head Cheerleader…the furthest that I travel is next door, to visit Bentley the Chihuahua so I have no details of exotic trips to bore you with or make you envious.  I do not play bridge, Bunco, or hang out at the cluuuuuuub, and I don’t think you would like to hear me brag about how large my last hairball was, so it looks like I will end this letter here!   

No self-respecting cat would hairball on the hardwoods!

I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday, and a wonderful New Year!  May all of your dreams come true!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Share Your Christmas Traditions With Tazi!

Dear Readers,

Since it is Christmas Eve I have decided to take a rare vacation for the next few days to celebrate with my family and the large bag of kitty snax I see hidden in the far reaches of the Christmas tree; for some reason, my humans thought I would not go after them if they were tucked away there!  Such Christmas fools!

I will get those kitty snax, even if it kills the tree!

I would like to wish you all a very relaxing holiday, and to those who do not celebrate a relaxing day off tomorrow, courtesy of America's Judeo-Christian traditions. Speaking of which, are any of my Jewish readers going to a "Matzo Ball" this year?

I doubt I will be able to sleep a wink tonight; I will be on the lookout for Santa! I plan on attacking the big guy and digging through his toy sack for just the right gift for Mommie. Do you think she will like a big bag of Skittles candy? I love chasing them around the floor, almost as much as I love chasing chipmunks around the house! Speaking of chipmunks, Mommie was not amused with the dead chipmunk I gave her last Christmas. Personally, I thought it was the best Christmas gift ever!

I plan on attacking the real Santa, too!

What, dear readers, is the best gift you have ever received for the holidays? What is the worst gift you have ever received? Please, share your stories with me! Just this once, I will not mock your crazy human behavior of buying the wife a crock pot for Christmas! I receive so many letters with tales of woe; today I would like to hear your tales (tails?) of happiness and laughter! You can comment here at the end of the column, or comment on Facebook or on Twitter, with the hash-tag AskTazi, or by direct tweet to @TaziKat. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

I am off to bed now...the quicker you fall asleep, the quicker Santa comes to your house, you know!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tazi's Corner #24: Tazi-Kat's List Of Worst Christmas Songs Ever

[Ed. Note: Email readers may not see the embedded videos. Please click on the song titles to open a new window and view/listen].

Dear Readers,

A Merry Christmas season to all who celebrate! This year, as my Christmas gift to you, I have decided to do a little research into what family, friends, and strangers with whom I come into contact think are the worst Christmas songs ever – and then, I clawed apart the lyrics to see why they were so bad! There were many, many entries, and I had to spend valuable nap-time to sort through them all, but for my readers I will brave even a lack of sleep! Without further ado, I present…

Tazi-Kat’s List of 

Top Five Worst Christmas Songs Ever

#5 – Last Christmas, by Wham!

As my Mommie’s brother pointed out, this song is not a Christmas song; it is “a breakup song! George Michael just added the word ‘Christmas’ to it and set it to a jingly beat!” I used to kinda-sorta like this song (until the cast of Glee covered it); now, it ranks at #5 on my list.

#4 – Christmas Shoes, by New Song/Bob Carlisle

The reason this song is so pathetically bad is that is designed to bring people to tears over someone else’s misfortune, but when you actually dissect the lyrics you find several large problems with the entire scenario, starting with the fact that a little boy is allowed to run to the shoe store, by himself, while his mother lay on her deathbed! Yeah, that’s very believable…actually, it is more believable than a kid knowing his Mom’s shoe size.

#3 – Father Christmas, by The Kinks 

Perhaps one of the more rockin’ Christmas songs out there, I admit that I have been caught tapping my tail to the beat! However, the whole song is about how a bunch of young, poor children of unemployed parents mugged Santa and made violent requests like “a machine gun, so I can scare all the kids down the street”. The song then suggests that we all “remember all the kids who got nothin’ while you’re drinking down your wine”. Haven’t these people never hear of Toys for Tots or other charities that assist with holiday gifts for the poor?  There is no reason why deserving children should receive nothing for Christmas. On the other hand, children who mug Santa do not deserve presents…

#2 – We Wish You An Adequate Festive Period, by The Happees 

Although the picture of a cat with human hands instead of paws gives me the creeps, I personally love this song and have been posting it to Facebook (ad nauseam) since last Christmas. Unfortunately, not everybody is feeling the love for “Dracula laughing for no reason”, which is why this song makes it to #2 on my list (I am saving the #1 spot for a very special song!). A warning for all who choose to play this song: You will not be able to get it out of your head! (My Mommie posted this song to RI Governor Lincoln Chafee's Facebook page in protest of his calling the State House Christmas Tree a "Holiday Tree").

#1 – Do They Know It's Christmas?, by Band Aid 

This song has a very catchy tune, but have you ever listened to the lyrics? They are fraught with bad information! This song deserves a list of its own, so here are the Top 5 worst lyrics in the Worst Christmas Song Ever!

5.      “There’s a world outside your window, it’s a world of dreaded fear, where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears”

Has Band Aid never heard of the Nile River? It’s only the longest river in the world, running for over 4,000 miles, from Northeastern Africa straight through to the Eastern-central part of the continent! Additionally, there are dozens of rivers that flow through the various regions of the African continent, and let's not forget Lake Victoria; it's the main reservoir of the Nile River, and the largest lake in the world!

4. “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime…”

In 1899, author Joseph Conrad referred to Africa as “the dark continent”; apparently, Band-Aid still sees it that way, generalizing the continent as one giant, generic region, and not a multitude of different countries and climates that make up this vast land that spans the world's two hemispheres. (FYI, Band-Aid: Many regions of the African continent see snow).

3. “Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”

Okay, I have already pointed out that the Nile river flows through the Eastern portion of the African continent (through Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi, and Egypt, to be precise), but I have a problem with the rest of this statement, too. The entire continent of Africa is not a desert! The African continent is home to many lush and tropical regions that are perfect for growing crops and trees. The eastern coast of Africa (including the island of Madagascar) is a tropical rain forest, while the average rainfall across the continent varies from 20 – 60 inches per year, which is similar to rainfall amounts in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom!

2. “Here’s to them underneath that burning sun”

The assumption that the entire continent of Africa is constantly under a “burning sun” is   just pure ignorance. I realize this song is about Ethiopia (which is never actually mentioned in the song), but does Band Aid realize that Ethiopia has three seasons, and that they are not “hot, hotter, and hottest”? Do they also know that the month of December (a.k.a. “Christmastime”) falls during the coolest season of the year in Ethiopia, with temperatures ranging from 16 degrees C/61 degrees F (in the highlands) to 28 degrees C/82 degrees F (in the lowlands)? This means that if you are toasting Ethiopians at Christmastime, they are quite comfortable, possibly even a little chilly, and not dehydrating under a burning sun.

1. “Well tonight that God it’s them, instead of you”.

This has to be the biggest “$%#&! you” in the history of music! What makes it worse is that Bono – yes, the humanitarian and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, that Bono – intones the words, advising us to take a moment as we celebrate in our “world of plenty” to be grateful that we are not among the starving and drought-ridden people of the never directly mentioned Ethiopia. Why not ask us to give from our plenty? That seems like the proper thing to ask…

Bono's cat, circa 1985?

I hope you have all enjoyed my Worst Christmas Song Ever Countdown! Feel free to add your own in the comments section below, on my Facebook page, or via Twitter, through the hashtag AskTazi or directly by tweeting @TaziKat.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thank A Teacher On Twitter Today!

Dear Readers,

In the wake of recent events in Newtown, CT (USA) there is much talk of how the teachers were the heroes of the day; and they were. If not for their courageous leadership and quick thinking, the loss of life could have been infinitely worse than it already is. Since that horrific event, I have seen a great deal of Facebook postings from people expressing a desire to go back in time and thank their teachers for the difference they made in their lives; how their everyday heroism helped them to become who they are.

Obviously it is impossible to go back in time, and as time marches on so do our personal lives, taking us from  our childhood homes to our adult worlds, miles; states; and even countries away from where we went to school. Teachers transfer to other schools, retire, even pass away, making it difficult to trace them through our past connections. This, however, is no reason to give up on the idea of thanking those who have made a difference! This is why I am suggesting a Twitter campaign to thank the teachers in your life who have made a difference!

A few examples offered by my Mommie are:

Thank you Mr. White (Glen Hills/RI) for helping me to #overcome my #fear of #math. I am now a math tutor. #ThankATeacher

Thank you Mr. Weller (Western Hills/Cranston, RI) for being a moral guide, as well as a teacher. #ThankATeacher

The concept is simple: You write a short message (120 or so characters) thanking a teacher who made a difference in your life, stating their name; the name of the school and the city or state where it is located; and end the comment with the hash-tag #ThankATeacher.  Hopefully, enough people participate that the subject starts "trending", so word will get out and teachers will look know to look for their messages or those who know the teachers in question can pass the word on (since not everyone is on Twitter!).

This idea can only work with YOUR participation, and the participation of your Twitter contacts! If there is a deserving teacher you never got the chance to thank, now is the time to do it, before we cats put into action our plan to take over the world - I mean before the world ends at midnight tonight! (Sorry, just had to get in that reference to the Mayan calendar!).


P.S. My Mommie is demanding that I ask this: If anyone knows a teacher (originally) from Rhode Island named Frank C. White, please forward this column to him...the "thank you" above is very real.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Low Self-Esteem and Twitter Not Always A Good Mix

Dear Tazi:

I have read letters in your column about people who get tired of Twitter updates every five minutes, and I am afraid I am one of those people - the kind who constantly tweet their thoughts, actions, and things that make them laugh.

I can't help it! I love to tweet! It makes me feel important to know that other people are reading what I have to say. You must understand this, don't you, Tazi? You write an advice column and tons of people read what you have to say! Don't you feel important because of that?

I just wanted to write so you could hear the other side of the story; I doubt you will print my letter because it is so short, but that's okay. I at least know that you will read it!


Dear Tweety:

I admit that I print a lot of long letters, but I occasionally print the shorter ones, too. Feel free to tweet that your letter appeared in my column, if that is what will make you happy!

It sounds to me like you suffer from very low self-esteem, and are tweeting to seek the attention of others. How sad. A better way to get noticed would be to get away from your computer and get involved in the world around you! Have you considered doing volunteer work with a local soup kitchen or a children's shelter? Places such as this are always looking for extra helping hands, and the good you will be doing will give you a new feeling of importance, gained through humility towards your fellow man - a feeling you cannot get through Twitter!

Oh, and to answer your question about whether writing this column make me feel important: I am a CAT! We always feel important because we KNOW just how important we are!

One day, we will rule again!  12/21/12 is coming!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tazi's Corner #23: How To Quell the Problem Of Gun Violence

Dear Readers:

There is an expression that "guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people". Those "people with guns" are the subject that I would like to address today. By now I am certain that you have heard of the tragic shootings at a mall in Oregon and at an elementary school in Connecticut, my neighboring state. I am sure we are all asking ourselves, "what kind of maniac targets children?". The sad answer to that question is, "a maniac with a gun".

I do not believe that unrestricted gun ownership for all was what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they penned the Constitution. I realize that the exact wording reads as such ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."), but those words were written at a time when the United States had no standing militias; at a time when the mentally ill were rounded up and committed to asylums, prisons, and other institutions where those society deemed irredeemable were sent. Did they not have the same "right" to bear arms guaranteed to "the people"? 

"The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"! When these words were written, there were many to whom they did not apply, most notably people of color. My point here is that over 2.25 centuries that our Constitution has been in existence, there have been many changes to how its amendments have been applied, and that the Second Amendment has never truly been applied as it was written. The "right" to bear arms has been infringed upon for many in order to secure the public safety of the day. 

Personally, I am not against guns. I find them to be fascinating pieces of machinery that, when properly handled, are a useful tool in the human arsenal. If I had one, I would probably find a way to use it to increase my kitty snack ration; I hear guns are a good way of getting people to do what you want! No, I am not against guns; I am not even against semi-automatic weapons which, in the proper hands, are a life-saving weapon in times of war and beautiful collectors' pieces in times of peace. No, I am not against guns or the sale of them. I am, however, firmly opposed to the sale of ammunition - in bulk amounts, that is. 

Without ammunition, a gun is practically worthless as a weapon, and completely worthless as a weapon of mass murder. A civilian must undergo a background check and a waiting period to buy a single gun, but can purchase upwards of 5,000 rounds of ammunition without a single piece of red tape to slow them down. Does this strike you as problematic? I am not saying that it should be illegal to buy ammunition; just that there should be some sort of limit on how much ammunition can be purchased by one person within a specific time period. We register guns; why not register that which makes them dangerous?

I would think the NRA and its members would be supportive of placing reasonable limits on ammunition purchases by a single, non-government/non-commercial customer. Gun collectors do not need that much ammunition! Many collectors do not need ammunition at all, since they do not operate their pieces.  Hunters do not require 5,000 rounds in a semi-automatic to take down a moose; if they do, I would hate to see the moose they are facing! 

Freakishly large and disturbing? Yes. Legal to hunt? No.

Just because you can buy as much ammunition as your bank account will allow does not mean that you should be able to do it. More and more, it appears that the safety of the general public depends on this type of legislation. The time has come to seriously explore ways of implementing it while at the same time protecting Constitutional freedoms. 


Editor's Note: I don't have children of my own, and I never will. After what happened in Newtown, CT this week, I can only be grateful that I will never experience that kind of fear and heartbreak that only a parent can know. However, I am not blissful in my ignorance; my heart goes out to all who have lost a child - in the tragedies of this past week and in general - and for all of those who now fear for their own children's safety. I don't know how you do it...every time Tazi goes outside, I freak out whenever he wanders out of my sight; I cannot imagine how I would react if he were human, if I bore him inside of prayers are with you all.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Legacy Does Not Wish To Continue The Family Tradition

Dear Tazi:

I am a high school senior at a very prestigious private school in Massachusetts. My parents required me to apply for early acceptance at Harvard; because I make a very competitive candidate, and because I am a legacy, there is an excellent chance that I will be accepted into this fine institution.  My problem is that I do not want to go to Harvard. I have spent the last fourteen years of my life attending private preparatory schools where I have lived among the world's most privileged; been pushed to excel beyond what is expected of other students my age; and isolated from reality. I feel like a bird in a gilded cage! I want to spread my wings and fly!

I would like to apply for acceptance to some of the nations more prestigious public schools, like the University of Michigan, UConn (I play basketball), Penn, and especially the University of Texas at Austin! My parents will not hear of such a dream, and insist that if I do not go to Harvard than they will not finance my education any further. In addition to playing sports and participating in Student Government and other extracurricular activities, my grades seat me in the top 1% of my class. I do not think financing my education will be an issue, since I am certain I will qualify for academic grants and scholarships. My parents did not appreciate this rebuttal, and threatened to cut me off completely if I do not agree to attend Harvard. As tempting as it is to consider making it on my own, I know that real life is not like a television show; to be cut off completely at the age of 18 is actually quite frightening.

I cannot talk to any of my academic counselors at school, Tazi; they would not understand. Plus, their job is to encourage behaviors that best represent the school, and seeing an alumna off to Harvard would look very good for the school. Can you think of any way I can win this argument with my parents? Or am I to continue to follow their rules for the rest of my life?

Not A Kardashian

Dear Not A Kardashian:

You sound like a young woman with more than just academic intelligence; you sound like you have a sense of adventure, combined with a sense of practicality, with a good dose of reasoning skills added to the mix. I am happy that you acknowledge the fact that life is not like a TV show; this is something that some people still need to learn.

Looking at the situation from your parents point of view, I see a few factors at work. First is their desire for their daughter to succeed in life at the level where they hope you will be entering the world. I get the distinct impression that they do not expect your first job to be an entry level one. Second, you mention that you are a legacy. Would you be the second generation to be a Crimson, or do you come from a long line of "John Harvards"? [Ed. Note: The mascot, people; not the brewpub!].  These factors, along with Harvard's reputation for academic excellence, could explain your parents push for you to stay in the Bay State.

Did you know that the University of Texas at Austin only accepts 15% of non-resident students into its freshman class every year? It is also one of the most competitive schools in the nation, public or private. Did you know that Thomson-Reuters ranked Harvard #2 worldwide for academic excellence?  It ranked a few points behind the California Institute of Technology; University of Michigan ranked 18th (which is not too shabby!). More importantly, do your parents know this?

I suggest that you gather non-biased information from reputable sources about each of your preferred schools, along with information about Harvard.  Compare and contrast each of the schools until you find what you feel is the best fit for you, and from there present the information to your parents in a logical manner, explaining to them why you feel your first choice school is the best choice for you - including the fact that a public school will fulfill your desire to interact with people of all socioeconomic levels. Remind your parents that an unhappy student is less likely to succeed in life than one who is comfortable with their surroundings.


P.S. Did you know that President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate, once called his alma mater "the [University of] Michigan of the east"?  He did!  You can Google it!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Young Is Too Young To Give A Gift Of Fine Jewelry?

Dear Tazi:

My wife and I are having a disagreement about our 14-year-old son. It has to do with dating and money. A few summers ago “Brady” met a young lady at a party and they have been “dating” ever since, albeit the fact that it is “long distance” since neither of them are old enough to drive and she lives twenty minutes away and is not on a direct bus route. They see each other a few times a month, Skype a few times a week, and text daily. She is a lovely girl, and a good influence on my son – his school grades have vastly improved (she is an honor roll student) and he now puts the manners we have tried to instill in him into practice.

We give Brady an allowance of $20/week, with the agreement that $5/week goes into his personal savings for large and/or expensive purchases. Over the years we have increased his allowance based upon his responsibilities, always with the agreement that a few dollars go into his personal savings. He has managed to save a tidy sum, as well as learn the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work.

The other night over dinner, Brady informed his mother and me that he would like to buy his girlfriend an “open heart” pendant that he saw advertised on TV. My wife practically choked on her dinner and – without consulting me – declared that he absolutely would not be purchasing his girlfriend fine jewelry; that he is far too young to give such a serious gift; and that she will not allow him to spend such a large sum of money. Brady responded in kind, telling his mother that he can spend his money any way he wants, and stormed away from the dinner table.

Later that night I brought up the subject with my wife, telling her that I believe she overreacted; that Brady has been dating his girlfriend for two years now; and that he would like to give her a token of his affection to remind her of him, since they are so often apart. My wife once again reacted poorly, and I am afraid I spoke some ugly truths to her, ending with my personal belief that she is trying to keep our son her little boy and not allow him to grow up.

The next morning, things were still a little icy between my wife and I when Brady handed us a printout of a letter you answered on a very similar topic; however, I believe the people involved in that situation were all adults. My wife and I are both wondering what kind of advice you would give regarding our situation. We have agreed to follow your advice.

Connecticut Father

Dear Connecticut Father:

I believe the letter to which you refer dealt with the issue of how soon is too soon to give a gift of jewelry; and you are correct, the issue was between two adults. My advice in your situation will be a little different, but first we all need to look at the big picture.

Your son is not planning on buying his lady friend a diamond engagement ring or even something that comes in a pale blue box (that was a reference to Tiffany’s, for those not in the know!).

A Jane Seymour “Open Hearts” pendant is a very affordable, even for a young person, with pendant appropriate for teenage couples priced around $80. For your son, this represents an investment of one month’s allowance, which is not entirely unreasonable…although I am not entirely comfortable with this price point considering his age. However…

Since your son has faithfully followed your rule that he save a portion of his weekly allowance for high end purchases, I am hesitant to suggest that you dishonor your end of the agreement. Fourteen is a difficult age, a point in life where a young person starts looking for ways to express their independence; Brady’s desire to give his girlfriend something that reflects his feelings for her.

I think you should have a father-son talk with Brady about his intention to purchase his girlfriend a piece of fine jewelry. Explain to him that just as his mother did not react well, his girlfriend’s parents may have the same reaction when they discover a boy has made such a purchase for their daughter. Try to get to the reason why Brady wants to buy his girlfriend this pendant. Is it because he fears that other boys are expressing interest in her? Is it because she has expressed an interest in this piece of jewelry? How would he feel if something were to happen and the two of them were to break up; would he be alright with her keeping the pendant? A gift, once given, cannot be demanded back. If at this point Brady still wants to buy his girlfriend the pendant he has in mind I suggest that you allow it, on the conditions that he ask her parents’ permission to give it and that the price remain within reason.

Once you have ironed out all of these details with Brady, I suggest that you lay down a few ground rules about how he is allowed to spend his money in the future. This should help to circumvent any future arguments about money while still allowing him the independence that a fourteen year old boy craves.


P.S.  A nice alternative would be a few Alex and Ani bangles! The are a great way to show you care, won't break the bank, are made of fine materials, and are very fashionable! Plus, they are made in the USA!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Should Lack Of Intelligence Be A "Deal Breaker"?

Dear Tazi:

My "lady friend" is a wonderful woman.  She is kind, gentle, charming, sexy, a good cook...everything a man could ever want in a woman, with one exception: she is dumb as a stump. Sadly, the woman does not have the brains of an amoeba.  She makes Jillian from Family Guy look smart.

She's not the brightest Crayon in the box,
but her heart is in the right place!

I have been dating "Liesel" for the past six months, and everything is great - except for the fact that I cannot have an intelligent conversation with her; take her anyplace that would result in her interacting with my colleagues from work; or attend any kind of cultural event.  All of the above are things I enjoy doing.  Our dates have consisted of us going bowling, dancing at nightclubs, sporting events, and other activities that do not require the two of us to attempt a meaningful conversation.

Every January, I attend an annual fundraising event for a charity that is dear to both me and my family.  I have met many high power businessmen over the years through this event, and these connections have helped my career immensely. I have to RSVP to the event soon, and I am having a hard time trying to decide if I should buy two tickets or just one.

On the one hand, Liesel is a lovely woman, who would make an impressive date as long as she doesn't open her mouth; on the other hand, I am afraid that her complete lack of intelligence will reflect poorly upon my personal judgement. If I purchase only one ticket, Liesel will be upset that I did not ask her to go with me; she would probably break up with me over a snub like that, and to be honest with you I am not sure how I would feel about that. Tazi, do you think intelligence - or in Liesel's case, a lack of intelligence - should be a deal breaker in a relationship? I don't want to make a move I will later regret, but I am not certain that I will not regret staying with her.

Mentally Fatigued

Dear Mentally Fatigued:

Your situation is not all that difficult. You either care about Liesel as an entire person, and respect her for who she is or you do not. It sounds to me that her lack of scholarly intelligence is an embarrassment to you and that because of this you are embarrassed to be seen with her. A woman as "wonderful" as you make Liesel out to be does not deserve this kind of treatment. You need to make a decision: to be proud to be seen and heard in public with Liesel or to break off the relationship.

After re-reading your letter, I am left with the impression that you like the idea of a woman like Liesel but that your interest in the real life version of her has not reached the levels you have hoped. You speak of a desire to live with out regret. This reflects a desire to be perfect, all the time. Nobody is perfect all the time, not even a cat. There are many traits that can be a "deal breaker" in a romantic relationship - some are shallow and superficial; others are not. Only you can decide if Liesel's complete lack of common sense and the ability to process even the most basic facts is something you can no longer tolerate, in spite of her many wonderful traits.

'Nuff said!

I would like to add that you remind me of a superstar quarterback who seeks all of the glory for himself, not the team. This quarterback can try to run the ball and risk getting sacked, or he can throw the ball - and with it the glory of scoring the winning touchdown; only one thing is for certain: If he doesn't make his move it will be decided for him. Your lady friend can make decisions, too you know; I suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with her before she makes one that you will not like.

Perfunctory Snuggles,

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tazi's Corner #22 - Diversity vs. Acceptance; Can't We Have Both?

Dear Readers:

I live in Rhode Island where our Governor decided to rename the State House Christmas Tree a “Holiday Tree”, in order to be inclusive of other religions that use an evergreen tree to celebrate their December holidays.  I know of no other religion that uses a cut evergreen decorated in lights to celebrate this festive season.  Some have told me that “pagans” use the evergreen, and that the Christmas tree is based upon the tradition of decorating an evergreen to celebrate the Winter Solstice. These people are only half-right. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and that appears to be what has happened here. 

I do not disagree that our pagan ancestry decorated evergreens in honor of the Winter Solstice, but they decorated live, planted evergreens and they used items found in nature!  The religions we call pagan – in particular Wicca, from which Christianity draws many of its celebratory customs – worshiped nature.  No faithful of a pagan religion would dare to cut down a live tree to celebrate nature!  If I were a follower of Wicca, I would be insulted that one would try to pass off a cut evergreen as a symbol of my beliefs in an attempt to be “inclusive” of my beliefs!  This is tantamount to someone hanging a crucifix upside down and thinking that it all means the same to a Christian. 

In our attempts to be inclusive, we offend those that society has deemed safe to offend.  Nobody would dare to call a Menorah or a Kinara a “Holiday Candelabra”, even though other religions and cultural celebrations use candles in their celebrations, too.  Why has society deemed it appropriate to offend the majority in its attempts to promote the diversity of our culture?  In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.  Room must be made for all at the holiday celebration, but not by pushing long-time guests out of the house.

Religion is a part of culture; in fact, it is one of the few anthropological universals.  Even as society as a whole moves away from the strict observation of religious mores, Christmas is still celebrated on a large scale because it has become more than a religious holiday; it has become a cultural [read: secular] celebration of our hope for peace on earth and a reminder of our own attempts to practice goodwill towards others.  These values spring not from any one religion or faith, but of the cultural views of countless nations.  How ironic that the Christmas tree – a symbol and reminder of what we celebrate as a culture, regardless of religious belief or non-belief  – has become the symbol of a divided nation!

This holiday season I send wishes to all who read this for a blessed holiday, regardless of what holiday or holidays you celebrate.  I ask that those who would normally react with intolerance towards a holiday symbol – be it a Christmas tree or a Menorah or a Kinara or a Festivus Pole – to temper your intolerance and instead indulge in curiosity.  Rather than condemn the symbol, ask questions about what it means to the person who has displayed it.  What you learn could go a long way in the fight to promote a diversity that does not discriminate.


P.S.  In order of their appearance on the calendar, I would like to wish you all a...

Hanukkah 2012 started last night!  אני מקווה שהאור של הנס באת לנצח
Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers!
Winter Solstice is on 12/21/12.
Wishing you a blessed and festive solstice celebration!
Festivus is on 12/23/12, for those unfamiliar with this celebration!
Click here to air your grievances, Festivus revelers! 
December 25th - January 6th, for those who celebrate all twelve days.
That's a lot of partridges and pear trees!

December 26th - January 1st
Seven days of  
thanksgiving and a celebration of African culture

More Snuggles,

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Child Asks Not For Herself, But For Others This Christmas

Dear Tazi:

I am seven years old and live in Rhode Island, just like you!  My Nana is helping me write this letter because I type slow.

Last year at Christmas, Mommy and Daddy were both not working and they fought a lot about how to spend money.  Mommie told me that even though Santa brings us gifts, he asks that people give donations to help him with the cost of the stuff it takes to make the presents. She said that we didn't have enough money to give any to Santa, so there would not be as many presents from him as usual.  At first I was really sad, but then I was happy!  On Christmas morning I saw that Santa had come to my house anyway, even though Mommy and Daddy could not give him any money!  There were small presents from Mommy and Daddy, and a BIG one from Santa!

Daddy told me that Santa has a special bank account that people can put money into so Santa can afford to make presents for people who do not have any money, so nobody is left out at Christmas!  Daddy showed it to me in the newspaper and everything, so I know it is real! There was a picture of Santa's elves on it and everything!  They were standing with some people called Marines. Today, I was looking for the funnies because I like to read Garfield and I saw the picture of someone who was dressed like the Marines in the picture I saw last Christmas, and they were collecting gifts for Santa to give to kids whose parents can't afford to help Santa with the cost of gifts.

I don't think everybody knows about what these Marine people do to help Santa, because Santa had to put a message in the paper asking for donations.  I can't afford to give a whole toy, so I am going to give my allowance instead!  Could you tell people about it in your Ask Tazi! column?  Everybody in the whole world reads it, so I know that lots of people will see it and want to help Santa help parents help kids get Christmas presents.  Thank you, Tazi for helping the Marines and Santa bring Christmas to everybody!


P.S. Do you like Garfield?  He is a fat kitty!

Dear Madison:

It sounds to me like you are talking about the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots program!  This is a wonderful program that accepts donations to help Santa with the cost of making toys, feeding his reindeer (they eat a lot!), caring for the elves, and taking Mrs. Claus on a Florida vacation every January!

Mrs. Claus needs a break, too, you know!

Santa gives away as much stuff as possible for free, but sometimes even Santa needs help! That is why he set up a special bank account so people can give help to people who cannot afford to help.  Wasn't that smart of Santa?  You are a very generous young girl to want to give your allowance to help!

Although everybody in the whole world doesn't read my column, I do have a lot of readers!  I am printing your letter so they can see how happy their past generosity has made one child (you!) and hoping that they will consider a donation to Toys for Tots this Christmas!  A lot of people don't know that they can make a donation to Santa's special bank account!  They think you have to buy an entire toy!  Thank you, Madison, for helping me spread the word!  Readers, here is the link to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots secure donation page:

Click Here

to donate to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program

Readers, if you are struggling this holiday season, you can also request a toy from Toys for Tots to ensure that your children are not left out during this season of giving.


P.S. to Madison: Yes, I do like Garfield!  He is the original cool kitty! --T.K.

P.S. to my Jewish readers: Wishing you a Happy Festival of Lights!!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Reader Thinks Man-Child Might Be Proposing, Hopes She Is Wrong

Dear Tazi:

Christmas is coming and I have a feeling that my boyfriend is going to ask me to marry him.  The problem is, I do not want to marry him.  I do not want to break up with him - I enjoy his company - but I do not feel compelled to get married because of some unwritten societal rule that states we must get married because we have been together for a couple of years now.

"Steven" is a great guy, but I do not think he would make a very good husband.  He still lives at home with his mother, who does everything for him, from cooking to laundry.  He is completely helpless around the house, and cannot handle even the smallest repairs.  He either cannot or will not cook for himself, preferring to ask me to cook for him or ordering take-out if his mother is not around to do it for him.  His mother sees no problem with her enabling Steven to remain a child; she says it is her job as a mother to care for her son, just as it would be my job as his wife if we were to get married.  Right!

On top of all this, Steven does not pay rent or board.  He has a good job, and spends his money on guy toys - his motorcycle, his sports car, his stereo system, video games, etc.  I am not certain if he even has a savings account because the few times I have tried to bring up financial responsibility he changed the subject.  Other than his inability to take on the responsibilities of adulthood, Steven is the perfect boyfriend.  We have similar interests, he always treats when we go out somewhere, and he lets me have my independence to pursue my own interests, separate from our mutual interests.

I am a financially independent woman with a good career, good friends, and a supportive family.  I would like to get married someday, which is what I tell Steven whenever he brings up the subject; I tell him that marriage is on my list of priorities, but it needs to be to the right man.  He would get upset, saying he would like to get married, and would like to think that he is the "right man", but I can not see him giving up his lifestyle in order to make the necessary financial and domestic sacrifices needed to live apart from his mother.  If Steven does ask me to marry him, do you think I would be leading him on if I said no, but that I would like to continue seeing him?

Liking The Status Quo

Dear Liking The Status Quo:

I can see why you enjoy the status quo - you are dating a man-child who treats you like a princess; you have the emotional security that comes with being a part of a couple and the freedom to follow your own, separate interests.  Your boyfriend has no financial responsibilities to anyone but himself, leaving him free to spend that money on you and some really cool toys.  You would like a lifetime commitment to someone who treats you this way, so what's not to love?  Oh, that's right; his inability to shoulder his share of adult responsibilities.

If your boyfriend wants to ask you to marry him, this may mean that he feels ready to man up and be the kind of man worthy of the title "husband".  Perhaps he has decided that it is time to grow up (you do not mention how old you are) and that getting engaged - thus putting another woman before his mother - is his way of cutting the apron strings.

Obviously, Steven is not ready to get married; not if he thinks that life will be just like living with Mom, only with an added sexual aspect to the relationship.  However, this does not mean that the man is hopeless.  If he asks you to marry him, which you do not want to do, saying that you would like to stay together would be giving him hope for the future.  Could there be hope for a future between the two of you?  It appears that you would like to see a future Steven; just a new and improved version of him.

I would suggest to you that you give an explanation for your refusal to marry your boyfriend, should he ask.  Explain to him that you do not want to take the place of him mother, that you want an equal partner in life; then, I suggest you start acting like one yourself.  The next time Steven asks you to cook for him, offer to teach him how to make a few basic but nutritional dishes.  If he is open to this idea, try teaching him how to do his own laundry; see if his friends can teach him how to make minor household repairs, which is something you should know how to do, too!  Home repairs are not gender specific chores!

If, in time, if you start to see changes in Steven's behavior you may find that you feel differently towards marrying him.  If, however, you still cannot see yourself offering him the commitment he seeks, you must be fair to him and be honest about where you see your relationship going - as in nowhere further.  If he can accept this, I see no issues.  If not, I see a break-up in your future.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.