Saturday, March 31, 2012

When Mom And Dad Don't Agree, Child Writes to Tazi For A Tie-Breaking Vote

Dear Tazi:

My Mommy and Daddy are painting all of the rooms in our house. I want to paint my bedroom purple, but my Mommy won't let me. Daddy says it is my room, and I should be allowed to paint it whatever color I want, since I am the one who will have to live with it. Auntie who lives with us said I should let you decide since Mommy always says you give great advice. I am telling Auntie what to say and she is typing this on the Internet for me. Mommy reads your letters every day, and sometimes reads them to me. I like them! I think you are a nice kitty. Will you tell Mommy to let me paint my room purple? I am 5 years old.

Hugs and Kisses,
Madison


Dear Madison:

Five years old! Why you are practically a little lady! Thank you very much for writing to me, and asking me to solve your problem. I like helping humans solve their problems. When humans are happy, they feed me more kitty treats.

Can I tell you a secret? My bedroom - the room I share with my Mommie - is painted purple, and I love it! Mommie took a long time to look at lots of different color purples before she finally decided on two different purples, a dark one and a light one. She was afraid she would get tired of looking at all that purple, so she had to make extra sure she liked the colors. I think your Mommy is afraid that she will get tired of looking at all that purple, too, so here is an idea that you can try:

Since you really, really want to paint your room purple, I think you should be allowed to paint it purple - but your Mommy gets to choose the other colors for the room; like the bedding, curtains, carpet, and paint trim. This way, you get purple walls and your Mommy doesn't get a headache from looking at all that purple. This idea is what grown-ups call a compromise.

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. Remember to say thank you to your Auntie for helping you write to me! --T.K.


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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tazi Recommends: The Garden Of Eaden

Happy Sunday, Readers!

Is it just me, or is the warm weather being a tease, coming out for a few days only to turn cold again? Not that I care a paw lick about the cold - I have a nice warm fur coat - but when it gets too cold my Mommie shuts the windows and I cannot sit in them and sun myself! No matter...the nice weather is coming for good, soon, and with it Mommie's garden - the most wonderful place on earth, full of large leaf plants that are perfect for me to crawl under and hide as I watch the world go by! In the spirit go garden celebration, I am recommending a gardening blog this week! I suggest you head on over to

The Garden of Eaden
by Simon Eade of Kent, United Kingdom


Why do I suggest this blog over all of the other gardening blogs that are out there? Besides the obvious play on the author's last name? There are several reasons, ranging from pure bias for the people of Kent (my Mommie's ancestry traces back to Kent) to the credentials of Mr. Simon Eade, to the ease of navigating the page; not to mention the enxcellent web-design work.

The Garden of Eaden is a site for people who want to learn how to garden from a professional, but don't know where to begin. Simon Eade is a professional horticulturalist and gardening writer, and has been featured on several British television shows where he offers his expert gardening advice to viewers who are probably just as lost as you - if they weren't, they would be outside in the garden; not inside, watching it on the telly!

The Garden of Eaden is dedicated to "Combining good gardening practice with sound organic and environmental advice", so you will find a variety of topics from which to choose - feel free to dig in anywhere that interests you! The site offers a Blog Index that is alphabetized by category - starting with Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers and finishing up with Wildlife and the Environment (my Mommie's favorite is Medicinal Plants). Most of the categorical headings feature a blog, video, or full-color picture offering explanation or information on the overview topic, followed by a long list of blogs related to each specific topic being covered (also alphabetized), such as Are Slug Pellets Poisoning Our Wildlife? (found under Pests and Diseases) or the particularly interesting Gardening In The Arctic Circle - Greenland (found in Plant Myths, Legends, and History). Before reading this article, I know I never thought of the Arctic Circle as a good place to grow crops, although I suppose it should be the obvious choice for cold weather crops like potatoes, cabbage, and radishes.

For the armchair gardener, The Garden of Eaden offers plenty to read in the form of informative blogs and vlogs (video blogs), which offer a National Geographic feel to the site - check out Living Dinosaur Shark - The Frilled Shark to see what I mean, and you may find yourself drawn into spending the day exploring the other topics listed, as well.

For the active gardener, there are plenty of gardening tips and tutorials on how to properly seed and grow various vegetables (Gardener Eade was discussing onions on my last visit to his page, earlier this week), which is when I also learned how to grow strawberries from seed - a tutorial I will be showing my Mommie, so she can grow her own, in addition to picking her own (something I mentioned in my review of Stuff White People Like just a few weeks ago!). Some of the blogs seemed a little tame (really now, How to Grow Cucumbers from Seed? This one just seems a little too obvious, although I did learn that cucumbers originated in India and have been cultivated for over 3,000 years now, so I guess that blog serves a purpose, too).

I have some mixed emotions about the way The Garden of Eaden constantly plugs its Garden of Eaden Seed Shop, an online store where you can purchase any of the seeds that the blog is discussing. On the one hand, it is marketing brilliance to offer the seeds being discussed for convenient sale; but on the other hand, I think it might pull people who are not ready to commit to gardening into the idea that they, too, can grow their own; essentially setting people up for a rather pricey failure (gardening, while not an expensive pastime in the long-run, can be costly at the start). Well, caveat emptor, right?

Last but not least, one of my favorite features of The Garden of Eaden is that is offers recipes that feature the goodies that you have grown in your garden! Imagine making homemade tomato soup with tomatoes grown from your very own garden? Or even an old-fashioned fruit chutney (is there any other kind of chutney besides fruit?) from fruits fresh-picked form your local farm? I have to be honest....I may skip my Sunday afternoon nap today and pester my Mommie to learn how to make homemade gelato from the blueberries she is planning on growing this summer...but then, blueberry season is still a few months away, so I suppose my afternoon nap can happen after all - just as soon as you put down that Sunday newspaper so I can crawl all over it!

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beauty Pageants Are Not For Every Child (Or Every Parent!)

Dear Tazi:

I have absolutely HAD IT with my ex-husband! What ever it was I once saw in the man has disappeared from both view and memory, and the only reason I still have contact with him is because he is the father of my daughters, ages 5 and 3 (not that he does much fathering).

"Jordan" is a horrible failure in life because he refuses to commit to seeing a project through to its finish. He will start out with the best of intentions, but then things will get hard; inconvenient; or both and he he will simply give up because he is no longer enjoying himself. Of course there will always be reasons for why someone else is to blame for his failure - from his supervisor at work giving him too many hours and burning him out (which is why he quit his last job) to being too distracted to concentrate because it was basketball season and he had money riding on the game (his excuse for failing out of the vocational program that he INSISTED was going to turn his fortunes around). Do you need to here more? I have several, but each one ends the same way: with Jordan quitting mid-way through and being unable to pay his child support because he can barely support himself.

Thankfully, I do not NEED Jordan's child support money to get by - my current husband and I both make excellent incomes, and any money we receive from Jordan is banked for the children's futures. As of this writing, Jordan has not paid child support in almost two years. Because he is not paying support, I have the legal right to withhold the children from him, which is something I have not done because I feel it would only hurt my children to cut Jordan out of their lives completely. However, I am seriously considering taking that path after Jordan's latest shenanigans.

Jordan has been watching the TV reality series Toddlers and Tiaras, and has decided that he would like to travel the country as "manager" to our girls as they compete competitively in beauty pageants. His plan to cover the expenses is to have local businesses "sponsor" our daughters, charging more than the actual expenses and keeping the overage as his "manager's cut". He believes that the money the children could earn if they win would bring them fame and fortune and, as their manager, would put him on the path to financial solvency as he accepted new "clients" with each pageant win. I am absolutely, positively, 100% against such an idea! And besides that fact, neither of my girls is the pageant type - both are more into athletics than ruffles and lace - and I will not force them down this path. On his last visitation day, he tried to get both girls to "frill up" for photographs and head-shots, and both girls came home hysterical, crying to the point of exhaustion.

Jordan has threatened to take me to court and sue me for access to the girls in order to put his "business plan" into play, saying the judge will see that he is trying to do what is best for all involved, and that I am not only standing in his way but turning the girls into tomboys, as well. I doubt he would win, but I can't help but wonder, "What if??". My husband has suggested we counter-sue for the termination of Jordan's parental rights, which would allow my husband to legally adopt the girls. Both of my daughters love my husband, and consider him to be more of a father than Jordan...but still, I am hesitant to seek termination of parental rights. Jordan IS their birth father, after all. What do you think, Tazi?

Signed,
Wondering How Far To Push


Dear Wondering How far To Push:

I can tell from the tone of your letter that there is no love left between you and your ex-husband, so I find it admirable that you still care for his feelings and seek to nurture a bond between him and your daughters. My question is, are you certain that this is what is best for the children? If Jordan was physically abusing them, would you still try to maintain visitation with him? I am certain the answer to that question is "no", so why are you trying to maintain a relationship when it is obvious that Jordan is mentally abusing your girls?

For a child to come home crying "to the point of exhaustion" because she was forced to "frill up" for photographs makes me wonder what kind of photographs Jordan was taking! I am not accusing the man of sexually exploiting his daughters, but the red-flag is there...exploitative photos of children that fall just short of pornography are often used as a way to build a client base of buyers who want to see more, as well as acclimate the children to taking these kinds of pictures. If I were you, I would demand to see any photos that Jordan took of the girls while they were "frilled up". If he refuses or claims to have deleted them from his camera, I would see that as a further red flag, and end Jordan's access to the children immediately.

You asked for my advice, so I have given it. You did not ask for my personal opinion, but I feel compelled to give it anyway: If your daughters consider your husband to be their father, and your husband is willing to adopt them as his own, I suggest that you entertain the idea. Jordan does not sound like any kind of role model for your young children. A termination of parental rights does not mean you must terminate all contact and visitation - if you want, Jordan can still remain a part of your daughters' lives; but he will have no legal say in which to attempt his hairbrained - and possibly crimminal - schemes.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

College Education Could Be The Beginning Of A New Life For Young Student

Dear Tazi:

I come from a very small town in a part of the country where people still marry their high school sweethearts and buy the house they grew up in from their parents when Mom and Dad are ready to move to Florida. Don't get me wrong, I love my small town - and the people in it, especially my boyfriend "Randy" - but I have always yearned for more! My favorite movie of all time is Sweet Home Alabama, and I often imagine myself in the role of Melanie Carmichael [the Reese Witherspoon character] - until she decides to leave New York behind and settle back down in her hometown.

My family has lived in our town for seven generations now - nobody has ever left, not even to go to college. My teachers have always told me that i am very bright and that I could be somebody if I furthered my education past high school, but my parents always said there is no way they could afford to pay for me to go to college. Late last year, I secretly sent out applications for colleges and I just got the news that my first choice wants me! They have even offered me a full academic scholarship, so I would not have to worry about how to pay for it! When I told my parents the news, Mama cried tears of joy; and Daddy told me he was proud of me, which from him is high praise, indeed! The local newspaper did a write-up about me, and put the story on the front page; and the local diner where I work cut the story out and posted it on the wall for everyone to see. Everyone is so happy for me, I feel like a local hero! The only person who is unhappy is my boyfriend, Randy, who is against me traveling away for school.

Randy and I have been seeing each other since I was 14, and he is the only boy I have ever dated. Randy told me that was hoping that we would get married after he graduates high school (he is a year behind me, because he stayed back a year when he was little) and that my leaving for school would change everything. He is convinced that I will forget all about him and meet someone new while I am away. He suggested that we get married at the end of the school year, and he can come away with me; but I am not certain that is something I want. For one thing, I want Randy to finish high school. For another thing, I am afraid that if I get married I will not be able to handle the responsibilities of college and being a wife. Plus, if I were to get married I couldn't use birth control and I know there would be no way i could handle college and babies. Last of all, I have always hoped that I would grow up to move to a big city, like Atlanta; but Randy has no desire to leave our hometown for good.

What should I do kitty-cat? I don't want to break up with Randy, but I do want to go away to college and start a new life! Do you think it's possible to have it all?

Signed,
Miss Independence


Dear Miss Independence:

You may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now; so I want you to think back to four years ago, right before you started dating Randy. Do you remember what you were like? What was your favorite way to spend your free time? What were your favorite TV shows and books? How much have you changed over these four years? I doubt that you are still the young girl you were when you and Randy started dating. Think for a minute about the dreams you held back then...have you accomplished them?

Now, think about the dreams you hold for your future. What do you hope to accomplish in your four years of college? Do you hope to pledge a sorority? Write a book? Design your own line of clothing? Cheer for a Division 1 cheer-leading squad? Graduate with distinction? Now, for the most important question of all: Do the dreams you have follow the same path as Randy's dreams? Or can you see the two of you growing apart as you both continue to grow up?

The "you" that Randy fell in love with may not be the same woman who returns home from college. Randy is fully aware of this fact, and would like to prevent any such change from occurring by keeping you at his side, be it in your hometown or away on a college campus. Would you be willing to sacrifice your dreams in order to see Randy's fulfilled? The tone of your letter tells me the answer to that question is no.

At this point in time, I would advise you not to make any rash decisions one way or the other. Enjoy the time that you and Randy have together and enjoy your senior year of high school! When the time comes for you to prepare to leave for school, ask Randy to give you one year away at school without any pressure to come back home. One thing you will experience once you get to college is culture shock. You will be surrounded by countless new people from countless different backgrounds. You may take to college and the city like a duck takes to water or you may find that there is a big difference between what we dream and the reality that those dreams can bring.

During this time away at school, you will be able to sort out your feelings for Randy, your hometown, and what exactly you would like your future to include; while Randy will be able to decide what is best for his future. You may both discover some hard truths about life, including the fact that we can't always have everything exactly as we want it. Whatever you discover, I think time and experience will tell you the zip code of where your heart truly resides.

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Go Ireland AND The Italian Blog

Dear Readers:

As I am sure you all know, this week was St. Patrick's Day; but tomorrow is another Feast Day dear to the hearts of my hometown: St. Joseph's Day! Being from a city that has both strong Irish and Italian roots, I am honoring both Feast Days today with my blog recommendations!

Normally, I prefer to recommend amateur blogs, but

The Go Ireland Blog
the featured blog of GoIreland.com

offers so many interesting and informative blogs on a variety of topics - from political to human interest - that I could not resist. Featured for St. Patrick's Day was a blog on the health benefits of Guinness, which made such a strong argument I am thinking of asking my Mommie to pour some of hers in my water dish! Another blog of interest was done as a picture blog, with a poster graphic illustrating the theme 10 Irish Inventions That Changed the World. Raise your hand if you knew the Irish created chocolate milk? The blog is an offshoot of an Ireland Tourism website, so many of the blogs are primarily related to tourism and things to do in Ireland, but they feature some great pictures and offer an interesting view into the Irish culture and history (check out Historic Sites of Dublin or the 7 Wonders of Ireland to see what I mean!). The site is categorized with a table of contents running down the right sidebar of the page, so it is easy to navigate your way around the page and find exactly what you are looking for - from Irish Culture and Irish Food and Drink (including recipes) to Irish Geneology blogs that offer tips on how to trace your Irish family tree! Even if you are not Irish, there is something on the Go Ireland blog for everyone to enjoy and explore.

If Irish food and culture is not your thing, check out

The Italian Blog
by Daniele, Lori, and Jay


The authors are REAL Italians, who are from (and still live) in Italy! The blog is (mostly) written in English, so you do not need to speak the language to enjoy this blog. The theme of the blog is Italian culture - daily living, recipes, history, and holidays - told from the point of view of your average Italian citizen.

Hailing from one of the many Little Italy regions here in the United States but not actually being Italian myself (I am American Short-Hair), I found this blog fascinating! When I saw the headline "Not Only Mafia" I thought I was going to read an article dispelling the stereotypes of Italians pictured in The Godfather and Goodfellas, so I was surprised to discover it was an informative article on a museum in Calabria that is featuring the documentation of many other criminal enterprises that go under the radar, thanks to the focus on the mafia. The museum site is in Italian, but easily translated if you have Google Chrome.

In the blog post "Sometimes You Just Need to Be Hungry" the authors give a brief but hypnotic review of a little cafe in Siena. The description paints a picture of what it is like to spend the afternoon "among culture and art", seeking to wind down with a pleasant meal. Though short, the blog gives the reader a sense of what it is like to live in Italy and participate in their culture. As a cat, I have to say I am liking the relaxed atmosphere much better than the hustle and bustle of American living!

The Italian Blog will keep you occupied as you jump from the funny little jokes they post, like the picture and translation of a humorous Help Wanted sign they saw in a village near Torino to their praise of the coffee break, an apparent universal love of humans everywhere! I would suggest that you take a coffee break right now! You know the drill: Put down that Sunday paper (so kitty-cat can nap on it), grab a mug of your favorite caffeinated brew, and check out the Go Ireland blog and The Italian Blog. Consider it your daily dose of culture. You're welcome!

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrate With Caution When Drinking Heavily!

Dear Tazi:

Last year, my 21st birthday fell on the weekend following St. Patrick's Day. Because St. Patrick's Day fell on a Thursday, people were celebrating the whole weekend through, drinking enough to blind a large farm animal (as my Grandma used to say) and unfortunately choosing to drive themselves home. I was one of those revelers (I AM Irish!) and because it was my birthday, I was out with several friends; one of whom was actually a friend of a friend, who was invited along because he agreed to be our designated driver.

I suppose I should have known better than to put my trust into someone I did not know, but I was just so excited about turning 21 and finally being able to go out and party that I didn't think anything of it. I wish my story could end with something stupid, like the designated driver got drunk and I had to call a cab; but things went much more badly than that. Our designated driver stayed sober all night, and drove every one of us home safely - until I was the only person left to drop off. Instead of taking me home, he drove me to a local park - a place my parents would have called a "make-out spot", but this guy had more than "making out" on his mind! Long story short? THANK GOD the local police were patrolling the park, and saw me struggling to get away from the "nice guy" who had offered to be my designated driver!

The police ended up giving me a ride home that night, even though I chose not to press charges against the guy who tried to rape me. I did tell our mutual friend what a slime the guy is and - what a surprise - I am no longer friends with her, because she refused to believe me; claiming that I was "too drunk to know what was happening". This is the reason I am writing to you, and is the message I want to impart to St. Patrick's Day revelers.

With St. Patrick's Day falling on the weekend this year, there will certainly be many more people out celebrating. We have all heard about the importance of not drinking and driving or of designating a driver; but I was never taught about the dangers of choosing the wrong designated driver! I want your readers to ask themselves this question: If someone is offering to be my designated driver, why are they offering? Is it because they don't drink? Is it because they believe in putting responsibility before fun? Or is it because they are hoping to have an advantage being the only sober person among the drunk people? I got lucky that night and managed to escape; but I can only imagine what might have happened if those police officers hadn't happened along.

Signed,
Erin (Go Bragh)

Dear Erin:

Your story is a sobering one (no pun intended) and offers a lesson that could only have been learned through experience. Although most people who offer to be the designated driver do so with a pure heart, there are some who do it in order to take advantage of drunken revelers. The lesson you learned was an important one: that just because someone is friends with a friend does not mean that they will be a friend to you!

To my Irish readers, I wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed St. Patrick's Day! To all who plan to go out and celebrate the holiday, I wish you a safe and healthy evening; and remember: If you are going to drink, don't drive! If you are going to drive, don't drink!

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. to Mr. and Mrs. J.J.D. of Colorado: A very happy 5th anniversary to you!! May Irish eyes continue to smile upon you!


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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shy Twenty-Something Seeks Dating Advice From The Confident Kitty!

Dear Tazi:

Are all cats as confident as Puss In Boots? If you are, can you send some of that ego my way? I am a 22 year old man, and have never had the courage to ask a woman on a date. Because of this, I never went to any of my high school formals - not even my senior prom. I will be graduating college this May, and my university will be hosting its annual formal for all graduates. The Graduation Ball is a huge tradition - with both the university, and my family. I am a legacy (on both sides of my family) going back generations. It was at their Graduation Ball that my father asked my mother to marry him; and all my mother ever asks me anymore is who will be the "lucky lady" who accompanies me to the dance. No pressure, huh?

Tazi, there is this one woman that I like an awful lot; and I would really like to ask her to be my date for the Graduation Ball, but she is only a sophomore (we have a general studies class together). Among the underclassman, to be asked to the Graduation Ball is a huge social honor, so I have no doubt she would say yes; I just want to be sure that she is saying yes for the right reasons - because she wants to go to the ball with me, not because she just wants to go to the ball and would attend with a three-headed martian if one were to ask her. If I am going to ask her I will have to ask soon, so she can find a dress and do all that other stuff that women do for formal events. I guess what I want to know is, how can I be sure?

Signed,
Shy Guy


Dear Shy Guy:

Cats are, by nature, egotistical creatures. Confidence with the ladies comes naturally to us. Yes, we felines are a lucky bunch...but enough about me! Let's talk about you! The fact that you are 22 and have never been on a date is not unheard of, nor is it unusual among today's high school and college age generations. Dating rituals are very different than what they were when your parents were dating, with a lot of the formality having gone the way of the IBM typewriter and the 8-track cassette. These changes have both positive and negative aspects, ranging from taking the pressure off of the person asking for a date to the lack of formal dating experience among twenty-somethings.

Asking someone on a date can be nerve-wracking, but know that waiting and wondering if the person you like likes you back can be equally nerve-wracking! I encourage you to take the plunge in person, not by sending a her a text message. Some things are just better done face-to-face. However, before you ask this woman who has caught your eye to such a formal event as your Graduation Ball, you might want to ask her out for coffee first! By spending some time in each other's company, you will be able to get a feel for whether or not you would like to spend time with her outside of a classroom setting; and a sense of whether or not she is interested in you.

Since time is of the essence, I suggest you invite her out A.S.A.P. With the warm and sunny weather arriving, you could ask her to join you for a coffee in a cozy spot on the other side of the campus; giving you time to take a walk together, as well, and extending your coffee date. If at the end of the coffee date you feel confident that she would be interested in going to the Graduation Ball with you - and not just anyone, including a three-headed martian - ask her! Tell her that you really enjoy her company, and would love it if she would accompany you to this special event. From there, who knows where things might lead? Not me, so if things work out for you, please write back and let me (and my other readers) know!

Snuggles,
Tazi


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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teenager Finds That Tea-Party Ideals Difficult For Average Person To Reach

Dear Tazi:

Last Fall, my wife and I wrote to you about our teenage son "Joey" who, at 15, decided to turn against the beliefs he was raised with to join the Tea Party. You advised us to respect Joey's new-formed beliefs, and to go along with things - every step of the way. We took your advice and told Joey that we would be providing him with the support that was required by law (food, clothing, shelter) but that any extras - designer labels, his iPhone, and recreation - would have to be paid for out of his own pocket.

My wife and I also renegotiated Joey's allowance, basing the amount of work he does around the house on a fair-wage for hours worked system. The amount of chores he completes each week takes approximately one hour of his time. We decided that since the Tea Party is against "living wage" legislation that we would be paying Joey the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour). This actually resulted in a large cut to his weekly allowance. My wife and I decided to put the money aside and, at the end of this experiment or six months later (whichever was to come first) donate the money to charity. We offered Joey the opportunity to earn back the balance of his allowance by taking on extra chores at the hourly rate; with the overtime rate kicking in after only three hours of work (we considered the amount of time he spends in school and on homework to go towards a forty-hour work week). Joey leaped at this challenge, and immediately began to feel the bite of reality.

Once Joey had gone through his allowance savings, he started asking for extra chores; however, few were available. After the first snowfall, we offered Joey the opportunity to wake up an hour early (5 AM, instead of 6 AM) to shovel snow at the rate of $10/hour, but he chose sleep instead and was upset that I had shoveled the driveway and the walk by the time he woke. When he complained that this was unfair, I explained to him that when work calls the employee must answer; that this is a part of developing "a work ethic and a sense of morality" that he originally insisted the poor do not have.

When Christmas rolled around, Joey got a Jitterbug phone (which he is embarrassed to be seen using) to replace the iPhone he could not afford; as well as a few things he wanted, but nothing near the extravagant gifts my wife and I usually give to him. Joey was disappointed, but we explained that he is a "working man" now, which means he should be buying gifts for others as well as receiving. Since he did not purchase gifts for my wife and me, we did not give as generously as we normally would. During school vacation, we took him shopping for new clothes and sneakers - at JC Penney, where he was mortified to be seen purchasing store-brand clothing. My wife wanted to give in when she saw how upset Joey was, but I convinced her to keep up with the "tough love".

Due to a lack of snowfall, there were no (more) driveways to be shoveled over the winter and warm-weather yard-work does not yet need to be done. Last night, Joey asked me if he could "collect unemployment benefits" since "work has been slow". My wife and I responded that he was not eligible for unemployment benefits since he did not have enough work hours banked, but that he could try applying for T.A.N.F. benefits [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, formerly known as "welfare"]. The look of horror on his face was priceless, when I explained to Joey that since he was a single man with no children he probably would not qualify for T.A.N.F. benefits anyway.

This morning, when my wife and I came downstairs for breakfast, Joey was standing in the kitchen holding a sign that read "Working Poor. Please Help. Need Gas Money for Carpool to Get to School". My wife and I plan to have a long talk with our son this evening (I am writing this on my lunch break), but we are pretty certain that this experiment has reached a concluding point. It has been a great success, and we just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful advice!

Sincerely,
Two Proud Liberal Democrats

P.S. We made Joey walk the two miles to school, just to drive home our point!


Dear Two Proud Liberal Democrats:

Thank you for writing back to me to follow up on your situation! I love hearing back from people who have had success with the advice I have given - it makes me purrrrrrrr like a kitten!

Although I cannot guarantee that your son will not continue to hold ultra-conservative viewpoints (which is his right, should they be his beliefs), I do believe that you and your wife have taught him the importance of having compassion for others, and not to judge someone until you have walked a mile (or two!) in their shoes. You have done your job as parents, the toughest job there is! Keep up the good work!

Snuggles,
Tazi

P.S. You went even further than I suggested! I didn't think to take away his iPhone or to restructure his allowance. Bravo!

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

La Quinceañera Should Not Be Ruined By A Lack Of Funding (¡La Quinceañera no se debe arruinar por una carencia de la financiación!)

[Ed. Note: The letter that follows was originally written entirely in Spanish. The Editor apologizes for any grammatical errors made in translation].

Dear Tazi:

You are such un gato maravilloso the way you give advice to people. Whenever I have a problem, I snuggle with my cat, Sombra (that is Spanish for "Shadow". Like you, he is un gato negro). This is why I write to you, because I trust you to give me good counsel.

I am a 14 year old Latina. My birthday is this summer, but my parents do not have the money to offer me a proper La Quinceañera. My Papá has been out of work for over a year, and my Mamá has had to go to work cleaning houses to help pay the bills. They are deeply ashamed of this, but I love them for all they are doing to make sure mi hermana [sister] and I are well cared for and happy. Sadly, the money Mamá brings home is not enough to pay all of our bills; and mis padres have had to use the money they had saved for my La Quinceañera to pay our mortgage and other expenses. They still want me to have a Misa de acción de gracias [Mass of thanksgiving], complete with all the trimmings, but there will be no money for a proper fiesta to follow. Querida gatita [cherished kitty], this would be more embarrassing than to have no La Quinceañera gathering at all!

In my culture, to invite guests to such a special occasion and then not provide a fiesta to follow is the greatest of insults! Plus, it would reflect poorly upon my padrinos [godparents], who have twin daughters of their own who will soon be turning fifteen. Mi familia does not wish to take from their celebration in order to provide for my own. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this problema terrible?

Signed,
La Muchacha con Tristeza [The Girl With Sadness]


Dear La Muchacha con Tristeza:

Gracias por los elogios! (Thank you for the compliments). I hope I did not mangle the translation of your letter too badly. According to a Quinceañera magazine poll, one-third of respondents planned on spending upwards of $800 on their dress alone. This is a lot of dinero (money)to put down on a dress, especially when you are on a budget. Is it possible to cut the cost of the dress and put the savings towards a small fiesta? Do you have an older friend or relative who has already celebrated her La Quinceañera who would be willing to lend you her dress? I realize the dress is a special part of the day; but think how special it would be if you and your mejor amiga (best friend) got to share a dress for such a special occasion? Would it be like a daughter wearing her mother's wedding gown? (I am not Latina, so I am not certain if this would be proper). If this idea is not workable, do you know someone who sews and would be willing to offer their talents as a gift for your special occasion? A home-sewn gown, when done properly, will outshine anything that you can buy in a store for a fraction of the cost. If you do not know someone who sews, do you have abuelos (grandparents) or other relatives who could purchase a gown as their gift to you?

The most important part of La Quinceañera is not the fiesta, but the Misa de acción de gracias (Mass of thanksgiving). So often, this is forgotten in the planning of the festivities that follow. Rather than rent a huge banquet hall, would you be able to celebrate in your church hall? If your sacerdote (priest) is aware of your parents financial situation, he may be willing to offer the space free of charge. Do you have friends who know how to DJ? Might they be willing to offer their services as a gift for your special birthday? You do not need to approach these people yourself, but rather your padrinos could ask them for sponsorship. From what I have read about La Quinceañera, multiple sponsorships to defray the expenses are not uncommon. Do not think of these offerings as caridad (charity), but as gifts from loving amigos and amigas (friends) who want to help make your La Quinceañera all that you deserve!

Se Acurruca*,
Tazi

*This is how you say "Snuggles", right?


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really el hablar felino (a talking feline) - in English or Spanish.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tazi Recommends: Women Of History

Good Morning, Dear Readers!!

Spring is in the air and I have been in the catnip, which explains why I am feeling extra playful and spunky this morning! This week, in honor of Women's History Month, I am recommending a blog about women in history, appropriately titled,

Women of History
by Melisende from Australia


What I like about this blog is that it digs up interesting information about women who have changed the world, from ancient history to modern time. Just this week the blog oscillated (there's an SAT word for you!) from a history lesson on the Judaic feast of Purim to the current judicial injustices against women in Afghanistan. Women of History is a blog in the traditional sense of a blog: rather than being authored solely by the blogger, it is an offering of previously published blogs and articles researched and gathered by the blogger; allowing for a variety of stories on one broad subject (in this case, women of history) to be gathered in one "blogspot".

Even if you have no interest in women's history, or feel that women's history month acts as a preventative to teaching women's history as part of a regular curriculum, there should be something in this blog that will be of interest to you. Women of History has gathered articles on topics such as political scandal, like "Queen Victoria's Secret Daughter", archaeological discovery (Queen of Sheba), political science (including Mexican Politics), and book reviews.

For those who have fondness for a particular period in history, Women of History has an index page that neatly categorizes its blog entries by historical and cultural period, from Women of The Crusades to Women of Japanese History. The Historical References page offers links to historical maps of ancient and medieval civilizations and links to blogs dedicated to the historical periods or events that Women of History discusses, so this blog/site offers more than just women's history, although that is the overriding theme; rather, it shows the places that women hold in history and immerses the reader into the history that surrounds us all.

The blog entries on Women of History are generally short to medium length, and should take no more than a few minutes to read, which keeps with the whole purpose of a blog - quick, easily digestible bites of information that capture human interest in order to introduce the reader to something new, which I suggest you do right now by putting down that Sunday paper and checking out Women of History!

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

EXTRA EDITION: Change Your Clocks And Batteries

Dear Readers:

As a cat, I tend to sleep a lot, regardless of what the clock says; but for those of you who must obey time, please remember to set your clocks one hour AHEAD! Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 AM on Sunday, March 11th.

While you are up changing your clocks at that hour, please be sure to let your pet know that it is you and not an intruder. We stay awake while you sleep to make sure your home is safe and secure! You can do your part to make sure that your home is safe and secure by changing the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms!

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

She's In Love With Justin Bieber!

Dear Tazi:

Is it possible to be in love with a man who doesn't even know I exist? I know it sounds crazy - and that he is crazy in love with Selena Gomez - but I am in love with Justin Bieber. At first I just thought it was a stupid crush, but then I saw him in concert; and I swear he looked right at me several times during the show...and I felt something like I have never felt before! When that crazy woman accused him of fathering her baby, I went nuts! All I could think was that she HAD to be lying - that Justin would never lower himself to sleep with a groupie; but then, how do I know that, really? I really don't KNOW Justin Bieber as a person - just what I see in the media. My obsession with Justin has reached the point where my boyfriend left me over it; and yet, I really don't miss him. I think I would miss Justin more.

Tazi, the worst part of my problem? I am old enough to know better! I am in my mid-twenties, and Justin is just a kid. But still...I dream of one day being one less lonely girl, and of being Justin's favorite girl. Never say never, right?

Signed,
That Should Be Me!


Dear That Should Be Me!:

I almost didn't publish your letter because of all the Justin Bieber links I had to enclose in it. Did you really have to make that many references to his songs????? [Ed. Note: In order for non-Bieber fans to understand the references, song titles have been linked to the videos]. However, I have published it, so I will offer you the following advice:

Come back down to earth, and accept the fact that you and Justin Bieber will most likely never be a couple. You have a celebrity crush, which is perfectly normal; but you have allowed it to invade on your everyday life, which is unhealthy. If your boyfriend was not someone you were serious about, I could understand why you would not miss having him in your life; but if you are breaking off successful relationships for a fantasy crush I would suggest you take stock of where your life is headed.

You need to ask yourself why you are so obsessed with Justin Bieber. Is it his boyish looks? His sensitive song lyrics? Does he somehow embody traits that you are seeking in a man? If this is the case, you need to start looking for an appropriate mate who embodies these traits. Or is it possible that you are afraid to pursue a relationship with someone attainable, and are using Justin Bieber as an excuse to keep interested and available men at arm's length? Some soul searching, and some serious discussions with a trusted friend or counselor could help you to answer these questions; as well as assist you in moving forward with your life, and putting your crush on Justin Bieber back into perspective.

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

EXTRA EDITION UPDATE: Missing Poet Jay Walker Found!

UPDATE: Mr. Jay Walker was found alive on Sunday evening, March 4, 2012. Thank you ALL who have assisted in spreading the word in the search for this talented poet. Needless to say, his family and friends are greatly relieved to know that he is safe.


Out of respect for Mr. Walker's privacy, no further details will be provided in this forum. Again, thank you to all who assisted in the search.

Snuggles,
Tazi

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

Tazi Recommends: Stuff White People Like

Dear Readers:

Happy Sunday! Have you ever followed a blog that was so successful, you didn't realize that it was a blog? That is the case with today's edition of Tazi Recommends... My Mommie and her pals have been reading this hilarious site for several years now; and only just figured out that it is considered a blog! I could make fun of her for that (all my food bowls are currently full)...in fact, I think I will; so, without further ado, I present to you

Stuff White People Like
by Christian Lander


Can Stuff White People Like still be called a blog? It has spawned a New York Times Bestseller based upon its posts, and recently released a new collection that is sure to be a bestseller, too. However, all original posts still appear in their online forum; so my vote is YES - Stuff White People Like is still a blog!

Judging from the title, you would think that you need to be a non-white person to learn and enjoy from Stuff White People Like, but nothing could be further from the truth! If you are a middle-to-upper-class white person - and you have a sense of humor - you will discover things about yourself that you never considered unusual, but has been making society raise its eyebrows at you for quite some time!

For example, Stuff White People Like #132: Picking Their Own Fruit. In most parts of the world, people who go out into the fields to pick fruit are called "migrant workers"; among white city dwellers, it is called "berry picking", and is done at a pace far more leisurely than those getting paid to do it. In fact, the biggest difference between migrant farming and berry picking is the fact that those who "berry pick" will pay for the privilege of doing it! Granted, they get to keep the berries (or other fruits) that they pick, but the price is still much higher than you would pay in the store. My Mommie is a huge fan of berry-picking; but if you ask her why she likes it, she can't quite explain. She just says, "It's relaxing and fun". I don't think the migrant workers would describe it that way...

Since we are already picking on my Mommie, I might as well continue in that vein - in for a penny, in for a pound as the British might say! Stuff White People Like #97 - Scarves describes my Mommie's wardrobe to a "T", and will have you nodding your head in agreement as you think about the young white person in your life and laugh along, regardless of your race, class, or gender. Note that I did not say "age", as well. For some reason, older white people get offended by this site. Maybe because they feel left out, since the site tends to poke fun at the habits of younger white people?

From a rant about Conan O'Brien (apparently, its white people that keep him on the air!) to Ugly Sweater Parties (which my Mommie swears were inspired by Colin Firth's wardrobe in Bridget Jones' Diary!), Stuff White People Like examines a microcosm of America whose faults and idiosyncrasies often go ignored.

Who would enjoy reading Stuff White People Like? The site has had over 88 million hits, so I would say that the readership range is pretty vast. I would have to recommend it to anyone who can laugh at themselves; because let's face it - not all "white" people are fair of skin! That's right, Montel Williams - I'm talking about you and your HealthMaster Juicer (also something white people like)!

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone! I am off to take a cat-nap!

Snuggles,
Tazi


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