Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Golf Vacation Should Not Be Spoiled Over One Person's Refusal To Go

Dear Tazi:

I am so angry with my sister-in-law right now I am seeing three shades of red! For the past two years, my siblings and I have been planning a large family golfing vacation to Prince Edward Island. I don't know what you know about PEI, but it is in Canada and has some of the best golf courses in the world! My brothers and I are all avid golfers, as are our wives, and we have been dreaming of this vacation for some time and saving for almost as long.

The four couples were supposed to go to PEI this summer - no children, just the adults, making two foursomes on the links. My eldest brother, "Joe" decided to go for a physical before the trip just to make sure he is healthy and to catch any potential health issues before the trip to try and avoid any medical emergencies on our vacation. He is in his early 50's, and has always been the athletic type, so none of us could foresee any problems.

Joe's blood work showed that his cholesterol is slightly elevated - nothing unusual in a man of his age, especially with our family history; Pop died of a heart attack due to high cholesterol, which is why we all work so hard to stay in shape and keep our health in check. Because of his high cholesterol, Joe's wife "Sabrina" is convinced he is going to have a heart attack and drop-dead on the greens while on vacation. She  has insisted that he pull out of the vacation plans and has demanded all of their deposits back.

Tazi, Joe is torn between going on this dream vacation and pleasing his wife. He has told her that if he is going to drop from a heart attack he would rather do it on the 18th hole at Eagle's Glen than while at home re-grouting the bathroom tile, but Sabrina is refusing to budge and has threatened to leave him if he goes.

Tazi, if we give Joe and Sabrina back their deposit, the rest of us will not be able to afford our green's fees. Everything has been prepaid and was based upon four couples. If Joe and Sabrina do not go, the remaining three couples will have to come up with several hundred dollars more to cover their share of the trip. We have tried to explain this to Sabrina - how her paranoia is ruining the trip for everyone, not just Joe - but she accused us of being selfish and only caring about our "precious golf trip". Tazi, this trip is about more than golfing; it is about the four brothers getting together for the trip of a lifetime, about spending time together as a family, complete with our wives, and indulging in a favorite pastime of all involved. Can you think of any way to keep Sabrina from sinking this ship before it even sets sail?

Golf Nut

Dear Golf Nut:

Since your trip is prepaid, Sabrina does not get to have it both ways. If she wants to back out of the trip, she does not get to keep her deposit; those monies are non-refundable. If Joe still wants to go on the trip, I say he should go on the trip. Sabrina's threat to leave him over this decision sounds mighty hollow - especially since she is against his going in the first place because she is afraid of losing him in a more permanent way. Once Sabrina sees that Joe is set on going on this vacation - with or without her - I believe that she will come around and attend. This, however, may create a new problem.

If Sabrina is so concerned about your brother's health, she may try to prevent him from playing golf on your golfing vacation, which would defeat the point of going in the first place. Although Prince Edward Island, Canada is one of the most beautiful places on earth (my Mommie has been there, and she says so!) the thrill of it would be lost on Joe, since he would be unable to play on the tantalizing greens before him.

In order to keep the peace all around, I suggest that Joe go back to his doctor, and take Sabrina along so she can hear what the doctor has to say. If the doctor gives his OK for Joe to go on a golfing vacation, explaining to Sabrina that his cholesterol is not life-threatening and that one of the best ways to lower it is through moderate exercise, such as golf, she may loosen up enough to enjoy herself. If, after reassurances from the doctor, Sabrina is still unglued over the idea of Joe golfing I suggest that she seek professional help to get to the bottom of her irrational fears - which, though irrational, are still valid, because they are her feelings; try to understand them. Enjoy your trip!


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

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Re-Post: Tazi's Corner: Issue #3 - Thoughts On Payday Advance Lending Services

Dear Readers,

This week, I am re-running one of my previous columns for a few reasons. First, my secretary (aka Mommie) has been walking around like a zombie and grumbling about things like "final exams" and "senior portfolio" and "finding full time work" and other things that concern me not. However, these preoccupations have left me with out her typing services. Due to my lack of opposable thumbs it took me hours just to type this intro, at which point I decided a re-run would be best!

I chose the subject of payday lending services because once again the Rhode Island state government has introduced legislation that lenders claim would run these services out of town. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Are you indifferent to the idea of payday lending services? Do you have experience with them? Please read my point of view, and share yours below, in the comments section! --T.K.

Tazi's Corner
Life As Your Pet Sees It!

Today I am going to ask you to join in the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comments section!! First, though, please read what I have to say!

I think we have all heard the commercials and seen the stores for Check ‘n’ Go, Advance America, and other payday cash advance services. I have read the commentaries on such services, which have been both praised and vilified as God Sent or as a Financial Hell Hole. One thing I have never done though is pay much attention to them since I never had a use for such a service. Cats tend to be self-centered (on occasion) you know.

This past week I was reviewing the activity of my state legislature (because a politically astute kitty is a good citizen!) and I noticed a bill regarding the interest rates charged by these payday advance services. Although happy with the nature of the bill, the need for it my left my hackles raised. It turns out that Rhode Island is the only state in New England that allows payday advance services to charge a greater than 36% APR – much greater. In Rhode Island, the maximum allowable annual percentage rate for a payday loan is 260%. No, there is not a missing decimal in that figure; 260% APR is the rate for a payday loan in Rhode Island. I find the exorbitant interest rates allowed by law quite ironic, considering that loansharking is illegal.

For those who are not familiar with how a payday advance works, it is pretty simple: The borrower writes a check for the amount of money borrowed, plus the interest charge, which in Rhode Island is 5% of the total borrowed per week, or $10 on a two-week, $100 loan. The borrower has two weeks or until their next payday to repay the loan plus interest charges, whichever comes second. If the borrower fails to pay on time, the lender will cash their check. If the borrower’s cash is elsewhere committed when the loan comes due, they can pay the lender in full – including the interest charge – and take out a new loan, essentially revolving the debt. However, because the original loan was paid in full after only two weeks the additional interest charges to the borrower are not reflected on the lender’s books, just in the borrower’s wallet. Ergo, the interest is not capitalized, a selling point these lenders like to highlight. This all sounds pretty simple, but even the simplest things can quickly become complicated.

Payday advance services make money on high finance charges. The lender is not going to get rich off of the person who is borrowing $50 to cover the week’s groceries due to an unexpected car repair biting into their budget. This is why the lender does his or her best to up-sell the borrower into taking out a larger loan, explaining how the borrower can revolve the loan by paying only the interest. Most people who use payday lending services do not have good credit, otherwise they would be using a credit card; nor do they have anything of value to secure a loan through pawn. In short, they have little; and have little chance of changing that anytime soon. Their financial outlook is depressing and here is someone offering to help them improve their credit by offering them a loan in excess of what they need! So the cycle of madness begins…

Through vice; bad choices; poor planning; bad luck; or a combination of all of the above, many who use payday cash advance services do not have enough money each week or each month to pay for their basic needs, and have come to depend on payday advances as a way of extending their income. Loans are taken for an amount equal to half or more of their next paycheck – but when their next paycheck comes around, they need most or all of it to pay the rest of their bills and/or their lifestyle choices (I have received many a letter from heavy drinkers/smokers/gamblers who claim they are unable to make ends meet). The only immediate solution is to pay just the interest on the advance, revolve the loan, and hope that things will improve over the next two weeks. Rarely do these hoped for improvements occur, and the cycle continues, with borrowers paying double, triple, or more in interest on a loan that will never truly be paid-in-full, regardless of what the lender’s books say. The fact that the interest rate is horrifically high only helps to perpetrate this cycle.

One way out of this vicious cycle would be to put aside monies – even as little as $20 a week – to put towards the principle on the micro-loan. Give up coffee shop coffee, cable, or your mobile phone for a few months and the money will be there; it will add up rather quickly, allowing the principle of a $100 loan to be paid in only a few weeks as opposed to never. I realize this is something people who get caught up in these schemes do not want to hear – they want to hear words of sympathy of how they were victims of easy credit rip-offs (okay, all together now "Ain't we lucky we got 'em, Good Times!") and how the government should do something about these legal loan sharks (which legislators are attempting to do here in Rhode Island). These legal loan sharks, in turn, argue that they are loaning money to high risk creditors and therefore need to charge 250%+ in interest to stay in business, pointing to their default rate as proof of their losses. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I do not disagree that the interest rates charged by these businesses is positively criminal, and that it should be drastically lowered and legally capped to, say, 52% APR which would be approximately 2% every two weeks on a short-term micro-loan – low enough to be manageable but high enough to create a profit. I also believe that there needs to be a certain level of personal responsibility involved on the part of the borrower. In other words, don’t borrow money that you cannot afford to repay; don’t commit yourself to contracts that aren’t in your budget to cover. I am amazed at how many “poor” people are walking around with smart phones, insisting that they “need” one (to the cost of $100 or more a month) in order to get by in life. I have received letters from the unemployed questioning why people do not understand that they “need a smart phone for work”. My little kitten mind is baffled at such logic!

Payday advance loans: A necessary part of our American economy; a necessary evil; or just plain evil? Discuss!

This is just my two-cents on the subject…which right about now is the balance of my savings account because I just spent my allowance on kitty snax. Woe betides the Mommie who thinks she can keep ME on a diet!!


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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prayers For Canada

Dear Readers:

Last week I published my thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing. In my rant, I made the comment, "attacking New England is like attacking Canada. Who does that?" This comment was in no way meant to be disrespectful to my neighbors to the North; rather, it was meant to call attention to the fact that Canada is a pacifist country. While their people stand ready to send troops into international battles, the last country to attack Canadian soil was the United States....back during the War of 1812, over 200 years ago.

I was deeply saddened to hear of the planned attack on a train from Niagara Falls, NY to metropolitan Toronto, Canada. I am left to ask, is anywhere in the world safe? As we continue to pray for Boston, I ask that we all keep Canada in our prayers, as well, that the scourge of evil that affects our world is not allowed to expand into their lands.

That goes for you, too, Canada!


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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Facing Adversity The Only Way To Overcome It

Dear Tazi:

I am in seventh grade and my life stinks! I have blonde hair and nobody has ever made fun of me for it before now. This year the boys started calling me dumb because of it. It is hard to ignore because I know I am not dumb. It is very upsetting, especially because the boy I like joins in when the other boys are making jokes.

I have asked my Mom if I could dye my hair and she said no, that "overcoming adversity should not be so easy" and that I will "never learn to be strong" if I always take the easy way out. My Mom has no idea how tough this is for me! She was always popular in school, and nobody ever made fun of her. She was head cheerleader at her school and friends with all of the cool kids. I know because I have looked at her old yearbooks that she keeps on a bookshelf in our living room.

I am thinking of using my allowance money to buy a package of hair coloring and dying my hair at home, but I know that my Mom will freak out, probably ground me, and never let me color my hair again so it will look stupid when I start to get roots.

Tazi, can you think of a way to convince my Mom to let me dye my hair? If not, can you think of a comeback to say when the boys call me stupid?

Not A Dumb Blonde

Dear Not A Dumb Blonde:

I recently wrote a column on the inherit sexism of blonde jokes. I suggest you read it, and try to remember the important points it makes. For starters, you will discover that scientific studies have shown that brunettes and redheads who color their hair blonde are the ones lacking IQ points, not natural blondes. Another thing is that you never hear any blonde jokes where the blonde is a boy, which means the jokes are a put-down only to girls - of all hair colors, not just blondes. Both of these are facts that you might want to point out to your female friends who don't appear to be standing up for you! Once they realize that the boys are basically calling all girls stupid I am sure they will start standing up for you, and for themselves.

I think your Mom has a very good point when she says that you need to learn to stand up for yourself, that hiding from adversity will not make you strong. I suggest you start to pay attention in history class to learn what true adversity is, or better yet talk to a person of color who grew up in the 1960's. Listen to the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and learn what it was like to be treated like garbage because your skin was too dark.

Products like this were dangerous, and didn't even work

I suggest you do this for two reasons: First, as I mentioned, is so you can learn what true adversity is. Second, because the more educated you are the less intimidated you will feel when the boys call you stupid. If you feel smart, being called stupid will not hurt your feelings so much and you will have the courage to tell these boys to cool it with the insults. Once they see that you are not bothered by their cruel taunts they will stop picking on you.


P.S. There are a lot of smart, impressive blondes out there! Former /Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton are two of them, as is Joan of Arc (she had dark blonde hair), Princess Diana, and my own Mommie! Be proud of your golden locks!

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tazi's Corner #42 - The Therapeutic Value Of Cats (and Other Four-Legged Creatures)

Dear Readers:

This has been, as President Obama put it, a rough week in America. Between the Boston Marathon bombing and the ensuing manhunt to the West Texas fertilizer plant explosion, to the latest news that five snowboarders were killed in a Colorado avalanche Americans have been under a seige of bad news. In the spirit of healing, today I would like to share an essay by my cat friend (and co-conspirator of all things catly) Nemo Chairdude.

Being a Cat Bringing Lots of Love In This Busy,But Sometimes Stressful World

by Nemo Chairdude

As I heard about the awful events of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was in shocked.  I may be only an indoor cat, but I still know how cruel the world can be; I could not help but to hear the news report of the events that unfolded that day, as my family watches the 6 PM news every night. One may think, “What does a cat understand about the cruelty of this world?”, but I truly understand.

I remember watching the Today show with my family on September 11, 2001 and saw the horrors of the attacks on the [World] Trade Center. Just like my family, I too was in shock. A few days after the attacks, my Mommy had severe anxiety because my Nana decided to go to a casino in another state. See, my Mommy has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and hearing about news events sets off her anxiety about anything. The events of 9/11 caused her so much anxiety that it caused her to be afraid to go out in the house by herself (or for the rest of the family to go out, as well). Well, anyway, because of what happened days earlier, my Mommy was so upset she was crying hysterically. As she was crying, I came over and gave her tons of cuddles and even did some “meowing” and my other funny stuff to keep her mind off things. This helped her out so much that I realized how important I am to her. She even told me “Nemo, I love you so much. Thank you for keeping Mommy calm”. She also told me “This world can be so cruel, but it is kitties, like you that make this world such a calmer place to be in”.

May I offer you a therapeutic cuddle?

As the years went by, I witnessed many other horrors through television, but I have also watched Animal Planet, where they would have wonderful shows about “Therapy Dogs” and other amazing pets. I always wonder if I, too, am considered a “Therapy Pet”, as I do help my family keep calm during their most darkest and stressful moments. My Nana tells me that I am more than a therapy pet; she and my Mommy say I am the “Heart and soul” of the family, one who is loved and cherished. Many people out there have pets that are considered family; animals that make them feel good in such a stressful, cruel world. I know I may just be a cat, but I feel good knowing that my cuddles, love, and just plain “being around” makes my family feel much safer in this world. So the moral of the story is: if anyone feels that this world is scary and/or stressful, get yourself a pet to come home to; having an animal family member, can make your world feel like a much safer place.

Sending you all tons of cuddles, hugs, and lots of love from my cat bed to you and your families.

Nemo Chairdude 

Nemo Chairdude is an 18 year old cat who lives with his loving family. His favorite things to do are watch television (especially news and Animal Planet), eating people food from his Nana's plate, and of course, giving tons of cuddles while he spends time with his family. His human, writer Maya Lincoln, is an occasional contributor to the Cranston Patch. Her work has been featured here on AskTazi.com.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prayers For Boston (A Special Edition Of Tazi's Corner - #41)

Dear Readers:

As I have often mentioned, I live in New England, which is to say that I am very close to the city of Boston, both geographically and emotionally (Go Red Sox!). Boston is the heart of New England; when traveling to places far, New Englanders will tell people that they are from Boston because they think nobody has ever heard of the little New England town where they actually live, just an hour outside of Boston (and they are probably right). Boston is the most recognized city in the Northeast...well, except for New York City, but no self-respecting New Englander would ever say they are from New York! Jamas! In our hearts, we are all Boston, and Boston is all of us.

The horror of the Boston Marathon bombing immediately hit home for all New Englanders, making us ask "Is anywhere safe? Is anything sacred?" (Seriously; attacking New England is like attacking Canada. Who does that?) The Boston Marathon is a gathering some of the world's most elite competitive runners, as well as non-runners who choose to follow the course by walking or wheeling (as in a wheelchair) their way to the finish line. It is a gathering of athletes and those who support and admire them. I found it very symbolic that whoever did this chose to literally take the legs out from under their victims. The sympathies and prayers of all of us here at Ask Tazi! are with the victims, survivors, and the families affected by this devastating act of terrorism.

Comedic Commentator Steve Colbert addressed our sorrow and anger in a monologue that I would like to share with you now. I found comfort in his tribute to the city of Boston, as in its levity is explains the stern stuff that makes a New Englander.

© 2013 Comedy Partners. Used With Permission.
Levity aside, Bostonians and New Englanders in general are a very strong people. After completing the marathon, participants ran another 2 miles to Mass General [Hospital] to donate blood from their depleted bodies. At that moment, all were Bostonians, regardless of hometown, home state, or home country, and I thank from for the strength they showed, as well as their courage and humility

Be very aware, you cowards who perpetrated this obscenity: We will see justice, no matter how long it takes us to find you. Have you forgotten how we responded to the shot heard 'round the world at Lexington and Concord? That was right outside Boston, and we have only improved our response time in the last 237 years! We are a very patient people - we waited 86 years for the Red Sox to win a World Series and we never lost hope that it would one day happen, so trust me when I say that we will not lose patience with those who will not stop scouring the Earth for you. You will be found. In the meantime, Boston will reverse the curse you tried to lay on it. The Marathon - and those you tried to break - will run again. And again. And again. And again. Because even though you break our bodies, you will never break our spirits.


P.S.  to the slime who committed this crime: Why don't you truck on over to my Paw Slap Of Disgust page so can give you a handful of them; one pawslap is not enough for the likes of you.

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Repost: Tazi Recommends: Titanic Blog

Dear Readers:

With today being the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic, I thought I would recommend a blog that covers all things Titanic - from stories of survivors to current museum exhibitions on the history and artifacts of the ship.

Today, I suggest Americans put down your tax forms (because if you haven't completed them yet the stress has got to be killing you) and, along with everyone else, hop on over to

Titanic Blog
hosted by RMS Titanic, Inc.

I like this blog because it is a part of a complete, professional site dedicated to the memory and preservation of the RMS Titanic - which means you won't find any of those Hollywood inaccuracies that litter movies about the RMS Titanic (I am talking mostly to you, Mr. James Cameron; I expected better of you!).

Titanic Blog updates once a week, with stories of human interest - the survivors, it's ties to various cities or ports, and even the dogs that were on-board that fateful night. Also included are historical vignettes of the time, such as how the Coal Strike of 1912 increased the passenger list of the Titanic; stories of what it was really like during the sinking (described as "quiet and order", Mr. James Cameron, et al!); photos of the ship and its artifacts; and so much more. In fact, Titanic Blog is just that - titanic, with twenty pages (and growing!) of blog articles, with five or six articles per page; so this site is sure to have something to interest anyone - even those who have zero interest in the RMS Titanic.

In addition to blog entries, the site RMSTitanic.net offers free accounts to its visitors, so you can sign in and participate in the chat and message board features. It is like a MySpace type site dedicated to the RMS Titanic, so those who are truly obsessed with the subject can find like-minded people - a total bonus for your friends/partner/family who may not share your obsession! I would suggest that you finish your taxes first, though, because this blog/site really does have it all!


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

Extra Edition: Happy Birthday Nemo "Chairdude" Cat

Dear Readers:

One of the best things about having an online column that is read by so  many is the opportunity to give shout-outs to those I love! My dear friend - and co-conspirator in all things catly - Nemo "Chairdude" Cat is turning 18 today! This is a milestone birthday in the life of a cat; in human years, Nemo is turning 90!

Hey, look! I found Nemo!

As you can see from his picture, Nemo is one sexy kitty! I believe this is what people mean when they say that all black cats look alike! (Right?). Nemo is an amazing cat friend to me, frequently sending me photos for use in my column and commenting on my posts, letting me know when I did good, and letting me know when I slipped up and could have done things a little better. One of these days I will be taking a vacation, and Nemo has generously offered to cover for me when that day comes! What a buddy, what a pal! Look for him on Facebook

Please take the time to leave a comment wishing Nemo a very happy birthday! 

Happy birthday, Nemo!


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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tazi's Corner #40 - Guest Writer "Tazi's Mommie" Talks Travel, Vacationing In Rhode Island

Dear Readers:

I know that you come to this space to read about MY thoughts, and not my Mommie's, but she has once again asked to "borrow" this space for her own writing. I am begrudgingly allowing her this space this week because her article might be of interest to people planning their summer vacations to Newport and other places in Southern New England. So, in deference to my Mommie and in support of the local tourism scene, I present the following:

Cycling Through Conanicut
a travel essay by Tazi-Kat's Mommie

Where – and what – is Conanicut? It is not a misspelling of Connecticut, as auto-correct may try to tell you. Conanicut Island is the largest of the three islands that makes up the small town of Jamestown, Rhode Island and is one of the most cyclist-friendly areas you will find in New England.

Discovered by Native Americans around 3,000 B.C., Conanicut Island was originally a summer home to Narragansett Chief Cononicus (1565 – 1647). Friends to Rhode Island’s Founding Father, Roger Williams, the tribe sold the land to Colonial settlers after Cononicus’ death and the island was incorporated under the new name of Jamestown, after the Duke of York and future King, James II. In New England, old names die harder than Bruce Willis, and there is still a large faction that prefers to use the island’s historical name. Respect the local culture and you will be welcomed with open arms to this 9.7 square mile patch of unspoiled American soil!

An example of what not to do is offered by Courtney, a server at one of the local pizzerias, who comments that Conanicut “is a little island, and residents may be irritated by high maintenance tourists. (‘No Starbucks? No place to get my soy infused raspberry-mocha-dark Tahitian truffle latte with an extra shot of espresso, hold the foam?’).

“I’m a little greedy”, she continues, “let all the yahoos who feel the need to go grocery shopping in designer heels, to show up to the beach at 7 AM already drunk with a fifty person entourage, etc.; let them go to ‘Gansett & Newport and the more fun-loving summer bums will enjoy the laid-back scene of Jamestown”. Conanicut may be the island that Corporate America forgot, but this has allowed a local flavor to take hold; all businesses are locally owned and operated, creating a quaint atmosphere that parents can trust not to corrupt their young children.

The quickest, safest, and least expensive way to get to Conanicut Island is by motor vehicle, since the ferry from Newport will cost around $60 for a family of four and the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge does not have a bike lane. Set out early to avoid the beach traffic and to get the most out of your day! While sunrise over the ocean possesses a majestic, almost Genesis-like quality, you do not necessarily have to leave that early to take advantage of all that there is to see and do, but arrival by 9 AM is recommended, especially on weekends.

Conanicut Island is home to many historical sites and wilderness trails that can make for an educational and physically invigorating day of family fun. As you start over the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge (named so because residents outright refused to call it the Verrazano Bridge) you will see all that now stands of the original Jamestown Bridge. Hopes remain that it will be turned into a fishing pier, and so it remains – an old soldier that has not yet faded away and a reminder that in Jamestown, residents cling to the old ways.

In addition to its quaintness, Jamestown also holds tight to its New England quirks. The island of Conanicut runs north to south, in spite of what the signs for the main road through the town, Route 138, say (which have the island running east to west). Once on the island, there are two paths you can take; I would suggest the road less traveled, notable for its lack of blinking signage informing tourists that it is “THIS WAY TO NEWPORT!”. Route 138 West is the direct route to the southernmost point of the island, where you will find Beavertail State Park and its acres of open space that overlook the Atlantic; trails to walk and fields for picnicking; an explosion of color from wildflowers and the Monarch butterflies that flock to them; historical sites; restroom facilities; and best of all, plenty of free parking!

Pictures do not do this view justice...
Beavertail itself is a wonder to behold, its rock formations etched naturally into the landscape. There are broad, flat cliffs for children to frolic as well as more challenging bluffs to scale. Fault lines remain as a reminder of the Ice Age bergs that once covered the land. The smell of the sea permeates the air, and mingles with that of rusted iron, an ore that infuses the rocks and is oxidized by the salty atmosphere. As the tide goes out from this rocky outcropping, the extent of the cliff formations becomes obvious, as does the reason why Colonists built a lighthouse to warn ships of the unseen dangers that lurk beneath the waves. Like many stops in Jamestown, Beavertail is rich in Early American History; if you stop into the Beavertail Light Museum, you can explore the history of this locally infamous maritime landmark.

As beautiful as Beavertail is, there are many other sites to see and things to do in Jamestown, so unload your bicycles and start for the Town Center, which is only four miles away down a safe and scenic road that is little traveled by car. In fact, cyclists are frequently seen riding down the center of the street, spread out like a mobile game of Red Rover, while the occasional car waits for them to move aside.

Cyclists rarely do, much to the frustration of motor vehicles

A scant three miles from Beavertail Park is Mackerel Cove, a beach so tame that mothers allow their infants to sit on its shores and play in the tide pools that develop during low tide. By this point in your journey, cyclists might be ready for a quick break and Mackerel Cove is the perfect place to take one. During the summer, the water is as warm as bathwater, with sand so soft it feels like cake flour. Seagulls perch on a large rock that is known as Seagull Rock. The birds know that minnows and other small fish – as well as juveniles of much larger species, such as kingfish – can be easily caught in these waters, which makes Mackerel Cove the perfect place for them to find a meal and for young children to have a successful fishing excursion. (Just be on the lookout for "Fred", the lunch-snatching seagull who has grown accustomed to humans).

Are you hungry for a mid-morning snack? Town Center is only a mile away; you will know that you have reached it when you reach a four-way stop. Redundantly, there will also be a set of red caution lights, blinking in synchronicity like the world’s tamest disco. Just through the intersection is The Village Hearth Bakery and Café, where everything is baked fresh or bought locally. The smell of the wood-burning oven mingles with the bread dough it is baking, calling to hungry patrons like a Pied Piper’s tune. Local ownership keeps Jamestown “pure, sleepy, and old-fashioned”, says Sarah, the cashier at the locally owned Cumberland Farms that serves as “the local Friday night hangout”, according to Andrew, another local who knows the island as well as he knows his own backyard. With all this localness, don’t worry about not being welcomed; Islanders are very outgoing. They are also very talkative, and love to tell visitors about their home.

Even if you skip The Village Hearth, your children are sure to notice the large public playground that stands diagonally across the street. Painted in jolly pastels and bright pinks and purples it “looks like a rainbow threw up on it”, according to one bakery patron. I suggest stopping on the return trip; there is still much ground to cover to see the many sites that Jamestown has to offer. I also suggest stopping in at Cumberland Farms to pick up a Conanicut Island Walking Trails Guide. It only costs $1.00, and details the many walking paths that will put you up close and personal with the wildlife that inhabits the island – deer; rabbits; raccoon;  foxes; and other small creatures. Children and adults alike will enjoy looking for animal tracks and remnants of growing juveniles creatures, such as shed snake skins and lost teeth, while the fresh, woodsy scented air reinvigorates both body and spirit.

One more mile or so down the road will deliver you to the Windmill Hill Historic District and Zeke’s Creek, the best place to observe the drastic differences between the high and low tides! Be certain to take note of the water level and compare it to the level you see on your return trip; the tides at Zeke’s Creek are extreme, going from tide pools and mud flats  to near flooding, and will fascinate young and old alike. There is also a Farmer’s Market across the street with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats for sale, along with farmers who will be happy to talk about the life of a working farmer. You might even get to pet the livestock!

Route 138 is full of rolling hills, but the pedaling required to reach the top of Windmill Hill is well worth the panoramic view of farmlands, ocean, the Newport (official name: Pell) Bridge, and the windmill itself, built in 1787, after British forces burned the original one to the ground during the Revolutionary Battle of Rhode Island. The windmill, on the National Register of Historic Places, has undergone extensive renovations, which explain why it is in remarkably good condition rather than appearing to have lost a joust with Don Quixote. While there, stop in at the glass blowing shop that is on the premises and see the master artisan at work!

On your way back to Beavertail, you will want to stop somewhere for something to eat. While downtown Jamestown has many restaurants, from pizzerias to fine dining to homemade ice cream (check out Scoops, on the docks, by turning left at the disco-dancing caution lights), why not visit McQuade’s Market to pick up provisions for a picnic? As Jamestown’s answer to Whole Foods, McQuade’s offers a variety of prepared foods and sandwiches that are “made fresh daily from local ingredients with no added preservatives”, offers Sarah, who does double duty at McQuade’s deli after finishing her shift at Cumberland Farms. With offerings that range from sandwiches to prepared dinners, there is something to meet everyone’s tastes.

Even more amazing in person!

Upon returning to Beavertail, the park will be quite populated with visitors who have come to see its panoramic views and uniquely large waves, which clap like thunder on even the calmest days. While you will be glad that you claimed a parking spot earlier in the day, there is always plenty of space to spread out – with 153 acres of land, you are bound to find a cozy spot to sit, relax, and watch the sun set over the ocean. In Jamestown, there is always something to do if you know where to look for it. If you find it, try to keep it a secret from the party-goers; the islanders will thank you for it.
Gracious appreciation to the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce for their insights on island living, and to the employees and residents of Jamestown, without the help of whom this article would not have been possible to write. --T.K.'s Mommie

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Infidelity Takes Many Forms...But Not This One

Dear Tazi:

My husband is a very good looking man, while my looks are merely average. He has aged well, and looks distinguished while I, after four children, have looked better. "Dave" loves me with all his heart, and I know he would never, ever cheat on me, but sometimes I feel like he is straying.

Dave gets hit on a lot by younger women who appreciate his good manners and cultured background. He, in turn, is polite and charming to them, even somewhat flirtatious, but things never go any further than that. He will always end these conversations with a compliment that references me - such as "you remind me of my wife back when we were young" or "as beautiful as you are, no woman could ever compare to my wife". While I am pleased that he is also complimenting me, I am upset that he is calling another woman beautiful - or even having such friendly relations with another woman at all!

I would like to say something to my husband, but I am afraid that he will take things the wrong way - like an accusation of infidelity. However, keeping quiet does nothing to change how I feel about his friendly charm with the ladies. Am I overreacting, Tazi, or are my feelings valid?

The Wife

Dear The Wife:

Your feelings are your own, and only you can decide if they are "valid" or not. Do you feel like they are valid? If so, then take action to see that they are addressed by the person who can help you overcome your jealous insecurity - namely, your husband.

Infidelity can take many forms, including emotional infidelity, but I do not think Dave's behavior rises to this level. You think your husband is good-looking because he is the man you love; Dave may not feel the same way; he may feel old and used up, and coaxing an appreciative word or two from a young woman who has expressed interest may be his way of feeling young again.

Some people do not care where the sparks are lit, so long as the fires are stoked at home; others prefer to kindle the flames all on their own. Do you tell Dave how attractive you still find him? Do you passionately kiss him for no reason, or embrace him lovingly? Or have the feelings you have about your own appearance doused the passion you used to express for you man?

I suggest you talk to your husband not about his friendly behavior towards other women, but about your own insecurities and what he can do to help you feel beautiful again. It could be that he thinks he is doing something about it by telling other women that they pale in comparison to his wife. The next time Dave tells a woman that she reminds him of you in your youth, ask him what it is about her that makes him reminisce about you. You may be surprised to discover he holds cherished memories of things you have long since forgotten. A trip down memory lane can rekindle a stalled romance.

If, after all is said and done, you are still uncomfortable with Dave's friendly demeanor you could ask him to tone it down a notch; that you know he would never, ever cheat but that you don't like other women looking at him in the same way you look at him...then give him that come hither look and see where it takes you!


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

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"Stuck In The '80's" Wonders If It Is Time To Update Her Look

Dear Tazi:

I was a teenager in the 1980's, and I loved the look so much I never left it behind. I still have really big (teased) hair, a love of stretch leggings, heavy black eyeliner, and don't even get me started on how long my acrylic nails are.

My 25th high school reunion is coming up, and I am wondering if maybe I should update my look. Although I would love to return to my roots and have people tell me that I haven't changed a bit, I want them to mean it in a good way, not a bad one. It is not that I am uncomfortable with the way I look, it's just that I have never found a reason to change to it. My husband tells me he loves me just the way I am and not to change a thing unless I really want to; my sister tells me its time to leave the Aqua Net back in the '80's and go for a more mature hairstyle if not a full makeover. I am not certain what I want; I guess I just want to fit into the world like I did back in high school, when life was so simple.

Tazi, do you think my look is out of place with current trends? Or am I just fine the way I am?

Stuck In The '80's

Dear Stuck In The '80's:

My friend Nemo Cat's Mommy would love to be in your place! She came of age in the '90's and is always saying that she was born a decade too late! While the '80's have always been a fashionable decade - to imitate or rag on - styles do change with the times. Before I continue, I suggest you take a walk down memory lane with this video.

Video/song credit: Barry Russo

While it is more than okay to "want your MTV the way it used to be", rocking a mullet while wearing legwarmers with your jellybean shoes is overkill.  If you are concerned about being seen as an anachronism then I suggest you pick and choose a few highlights from your glory days to keep and update the remainder of your look. Let's face it: acid wash jeans were always a bad idea, as was fluorescent clothing and lacy ankle socks with high heels.

Unless, of course, you actually want to look like a hooker!
Leggings are always in style, so long as you remember that they are not pants and should always be worn with a tunic length top (because visible panty lines are never in style!). Current makeup styles range from barely there to bright and bold, so choose a look that works well for you and don't fret it. I suggest you check out professional makeup artist James Vincent's portfolio for some examples of what's hot right now. That man can work wonders with a makeup brush!

Nail polish is always a good way to make a fashion statement. Current trends emphasize bright colors, glitter, and nail art (just not all three on the same manicure). As for length, for reasons related to health and sanitation a quarter inch past the fingertip is the ideal length; any longer and bacteria can get trapped on the underside of the nail and cause illness or infection. As for your hair, current trends emphasize straight. It can be long, short, or even a pixie cut but straight, not teased, is what is featured on the runways right now (at least, it is according to Vogue Magazine, and who am I to argue with Anna Wintour?).

In the end, you are the one who has to create and maintain a look that you feel comfortable presenting. If you are happy with your current appearance, don't let anyone - even me - convince you to change it.


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

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Other Woman" Had No Idea "Her" Man Was Someone Else's

Dear Tazi:

I have been seeing a man for six months, and I have fallen deeply in love with him. He told me he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I believed him. He travels a lot for work, so I did not think much of his absences from my life until I got an email from his wife! She found a message from me in his open email account. It turns out he is married and has a family, and his "business trips" were actually how he got away from her to see me, and vice-versa. When he was with me, he would tell his wife he was away on business; when he needed to be with her and his children, he would tell me he had a business trip. The worst part is he doesn't need to travel for business at all! He lied to me when I met him (he was actually on a family vacation when he came to my town!).

He told me that he loves me and that he never meant to hurt me. He told me that he was going to divorce his wife so we could be together, just as soon as his children were out of school for the summer. One of them has been struggling, and he thinks the trauma would set the child back in his studies. I believed him until his wife sent me a second email with a scanned copy of the divorce papers attached to it. It turns out she filed for divorce as soon as she found out about me.

Tazi, I feel sick! Not only has my boyfriend lied to me, I feel like a home-wrecker! Had I known he was married I would never have gotten involved with him. I emailed his wife back and told her this, but she simply responded that what was done was done and could not be undone. I want to break up with my boyfriend over this whole fiasco, but I am not sure that I should. On the one hand, he lied to me and turned me into something I never thought I would be - the other woman. To stay with him would reward his bad behavior and make me feel like he only chose me because his wife left him. Who wants someone else's sloppy seconds? Not me! On the other hand, I still love him and would hate it if he found someone else. I feel like this is my one chance to find happiness with the man I love...and yet I am hesitant.to move forward. What would you suggest, Tazi?

The Other Woman

Dear The Other Woman:

I can understand why you are reeling from this whole situation, which is probably why you are unable to think clearly. The man you love has turned out to be someone else entirely, and it appears that you are desperately trying to convince yourself that this is not true and that he really does exist. Whether his soon-to-be ex-wife is emailing you out of spite, concern for your future, or a little of both must be set aside for the moment so you can look at the cold, hard facts of the matter:

1. Your boyfriend lied to you about being married, about having to travel for work, and about initiating a divorce to be with you. Not only is this a long record of lies, but it leads to questions about what actually is true.

2. If this man was not traveling for work, who was paying his travel expenses? Was he financially stable enough to cover them personally? Was he maxing out his credit cards to come see you? Was he embezzling funds from work? These are serious questions that need honest answers.

3. Is anything that you love about this man a part of who he really is, or is it all part of a facade that he created to impress you?

I think the most important thing you need to look at is the fact that you met this guy while he was on vacation with  his family! What kind of louse would walk away from his family for a fling with a woman he just met? What lies was he telling his wife and children in order to get away from them to come spend time with you?

I realize that your heart is broken, and several pints of ice cream and a Sex and the City marathon will be required to heal it, but in the end I would say that this man's not worth your tears, and that his soon-to-be ex-wife did you a favor by revealing his true colors to you. His lies could not have gone on forever, and the longer you two stayed together, the deeper and more tangled those lies would become.

At this point, you have done nothing wrong; you did not know he was married, so you are a victim, too. If you choose to continue to see this man you will become an accomplice to his vile behavior. That hesitancy you feel is your conscience telling you to do the right thing and walk away.

Extra Snuggles,

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Respect For Religious Differences Goes Both Ways

Dear Tazi:

Could you please print my letter ASAP? I fear a family argument will erupt if this issue is not settled ASAP!

My brother-in-law (my husband's brother) is Jewish. We are not. He converted when he got married, and no longer celebrates the Christian holidays, although he will usually stop by to say hello and wish us and the rest of the family well as we celebrate our faith. Although my husband's family disapproves of his conversion, I have always been sensitive to his beliefs and make sure to wish him well on his holidays as he wishes me well on mine.

This past month Easter and Passover fell during the same time, so I did not expect to see "Fred" and was surprised when he made an unannounced visit to my house on Easter Sunday while coffee and dessert was being served. I of course welcomed him in, and invited him to join us for coffee. I had made some beautiful cookies for dessert, and decorated them in Easter colored sprinkles - pink, purple, and yellow. Fred immediately took offense to this, telling me that I should have thought to decorate some in Passover colors, too.

Tazi, I was taken aback by Fred's request! For starters, I was not expecting him to come over; second, the cookies were for an Easter celebration, not Passover! I tried to diffuse Fred's temper by mentioning that the cookies contained baking powder - a leavening agent - so to decorate them in "Passover colors" would have been highly inappropriate. Fred responded that I could have left the baking powder out of some of the cookies, so I told him that would have made them hard as rocks and inedible. Fred then launched into a tirade about how he always thought that I accepted his religious conversion, but now my true colors were emerging.

My husband came to my defense, but in an unfortunate manner, saying some anti-Semitic things as he commented that I was the only family member to support Fred's conversion. This made the argument even more heated, so my mother-in-law tried to end the argument, but Fred then accused her of taking sides. All of this over a batch of cookies and an unexpected visit! I told Fred that I would have prepared for his visit if I knew he was coming, but he just twisted my words to sound like he was unwelcome without calling first.

Fred ended up storming out of the house and going home. I am not sure what he told his wife, but she left a rude message on my answering machine later that evening as everyone was leaving. I do want to patch things up, but need to know if I was wrong in not making appropriate accommodations for Fred. Should I have expected his visit? The family says he is just being a jerk, but I tend to think they are biased against him.

Too Tolerant?

Dear Too Tolerant?:

My unbiased opinion is that Fred is being a jerk. The fact that there are no traditional colors for Passover makes it obvious that there is a much larger issue that needs to be addressed, and Fred was looking for a way to pick a bone over it. It very wrong to take his anger at his family out on you.

Since your issue only occurred a few days ago, there is still time to talk things over before things get too awkward. I suggest you call your sister-in-law and ask to speak to her about the misunderstanding that happened on Easter. Once you explain to her what you have told me - that you in no way wished to offend Fred, and would have made appropriate treats and/or accommodations had you known he would be stopping by - the ice will have been broken and your sister-in-law should be willing to listen. [Ed. Note: Depending on Fred's level of observance, he may not even be able to enter a home that has yeast products in it during Pesach]. Since you have always been respectful and accepting of her religious beliefs I do not believe she will think that you have suddenly changed your mind, or that you have been hiding your "true colors" all these years.

Apologies are needed all around, starting with Fred and your sister-in-law apologizing to you for making you a target of their pent up anger. Your husband needs to apologize to Fred for his anti-Semitic comments - such comments are inexcusable in polite society. Your mother-in-law deserves the chance to be heard and explain that she was not choosing sides, that she was trying to keep the peace until a more appropriate time and venue for argument presented itself.

Last but not least, I personally believe that the entire family needs to seek professional counseling to deal with the important issue of acceptance! I realize that a religious conversion can be seen as an affront to those who believe differently, but respect for religious differences goes both ways. Fred has been respectful to your family by continuing to visit and wish tidings on your Christian holidays; he deserves the same respect in return.


P.S. In the future, I suggest you keep some kosher treats on hand in case Fred pays another unexpected visit! It will go a long way towards keeping the peace. --T.K.

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Great Cat Debate: Should They Be Let Outdoors?

Dear Tazi:

My wife and I are having an argument about "Tussler", our tomcat. I think a cat should be allowed to go outside and do things that cats like to do - chase mice, nap in the sun, prowl, and meet up with other cats to do whatever it is that cats do when nobody is watching.

My wife thinks that I am just trying to think of an excuse to get rid of the litter-box, and that forcing Tussler to go outside will result in him doing his business out there, too. She feels that Tussler should be an indoor cat, arguing that indoor cats live longer and need fewer trips to the vet. I say that while this is true, what cat would want to live longer if it is being kept a prisoner inside the house?

I will admit that not having to clean the cat box would be nice, but it's not my motive for wanting to install a pet door for Tussler. I just think that the poor cat is miserable being forced to stay indoors. We live in a safe, suburban neighborhood where people drive slow and keep their dogs leashed. There are no wild animals that would attack Tussler, and the birds have feeders and houses that are well out of his reach. What is your opinion, Tazi? Is my wife turning Tussler into a wimp or am I being too much of a forward thinker?

Tussler's Dad

Dear Tussler's Dad:

With a name like Tussler, I am guessing that your tomcat is quite the bruiser! I know I wouldn't want to mess with him! My one concern here is that Tussler might try to bully the other cats in the neighborhood (and maybe even some of the dogs).

While your wife is correct that indoor cats live longer and need fewer shots and trips to the vet, the in vs. out preference should be decided by Tussler. While I prefer to be indoors, occasionally stepping out with my lady friend, not all cats prefer this lifestyle. My predecessor, Koko, was an outdoor cat, refusing to come in for dark of night or pouring rain! Eventually, he moved outside on a permanent basis, and Mommie went and adopted me!

If Tussler prefers to spend time outside, your wife will have to acquiesce to this preference or deal with a very unhappy kitty (and the knowledge that unhappy kitties tend to destroy stuff). Before allowing Tussler outside, though, make sure that he has all the necessary shots and take a stroll through the neighborhood, too, to make sure that Tussler will not be a threat to other animals or be threatened by them. Since you will be installing a pet door for Tussler you will need to make sure that he understands how to use it, that the door is both a way into the house as well as out of it, and you will have to be able to lock it for when you do not want Tussler outside. Owning an indoor/outdoor cat is a lot of responsibility - more so than having to clean a litter-box three times a week! If you are ready to take on these extra responsibilities, and Tussler truly wants to leave the house, I see no reason to hold him as a prisoner of your love for him.


P.S. Do you really not know what cats do when no one else is around? Here's a glimpse...

But not all of us look as good as Tim Curry in Spandex

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