Friday, February 28, 2014

Woman Considers Flushing Relationship Over Bathroom Odors

Dear Tazi:

I have a problem so embarrassing I don't dare ask anyone I know! My boyfriend, "Clyde" and I recently moved in together as a prelude to getting engaged. We want to make certain that our living habits are compatible before we make such an important (and pricey) commitment to each other.

Clyde and I are compatible in so many ways, and for the most part we enjoy living together. However, there is one problem that I just can't seem to get past and I am not certain if I will ever be able to get past it. I would hate for this to be what ends an otherwise wonderful relationship; but I cannot see myself living this way, either. My problem has to do with Clyde's bathroom habits.

Clyde is a big meat eater, and bacon is his absolute favorite food. Because Clyde does not get a lot of fiber in his diet, things tend to "back up" in his system until he unloads it all at once. If you are getting the picture I am trying to paint, you will be able to understand just how awful the bathroom smells when he is done in there. It is seriously bad enough to knock you to your knees. (Do cats have knees?).

Adding to the issue is Clyde's absolute refusal to use an air-freshening spray after he has finished his business. He insists that sprays simply cover up the odor while putting chemicals into the air, and that by turning on the bathroom fan the problem takes care of itself. I beg to differ, Tazi. I once entered the bathroom a full 15 minutes later and the room still had a malodorous smell about it; and even when the smell has dissipated, the bathroom still does not smell fresh.

Clyde has suggested we burn organic candles in the bathroom, but I am not comfortable with the idea of leaving a flame (open or in a jar) unattended; and the candle has to be actively burning for a while in order to combat the bad bathroom smells. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this problem?

Holding My Nose

Dear Holding My Nose:

You do paint a vivid picture of an embarrassing problem, and it seems that you and Clyde are at an impasse. Whether this issue is one to end your relationship over is entirely up to you; but personally, I think it rather petty. Seriously, how often does Clyde stink up the bathroom?

I can understand how Clyde does not wish to release chemicals into the air as well as your desire not to leave a lit flame unattended. There are other options available, though. Some air-freshening sprays (like Lysol or Febreeze) kill germs as well as freshen the air, giving the bathroom a disinfecting with every use. Considering your description of what Clyde does in there, this option gets my vote! If you want to go organic (which Lysol and Febreeze technically are since, in chemical terms, "organic" means "carbon based"), it may be trickier to combine disinfecting with air-freshening. Here are a few all-natural ways to absorb the odors, though:

• An open box of baking soda on a shelf (just remember that baking soda will also absorb moisture, so the bathroom may not be the best place for it)

• Vinegar with lemon juice will neutralize odors. You could put the mixture in a spray bottle to create a natural, homemade air-freshener

• Having houseplants helps reduce odors in the home by cycling the air

• Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter (these may also absorb moisture, but not as quickly as baking soda)

• Simmer water and cinnamon or other spices in a potpourri warmer (the electric kind) or leave a small jar candle on an electric candle warmer, allowing the candle to "burn" flamelessly

Whatever you do, I hope that you and Clyde can work past this issue because if this is the biggest problem the two of you have to face as a couple, you should consider yourselves blessed!

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. Yes, cats do have knees! They are on our hind legs, just like on humans, but on us it is called the "stifle". Here is a picture of a cat skeleton, and you can see them clear as day.

Even on the inside, we cats are a work of beauty!

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gender Dysphoria Can Cause Problems In Social Situations

Dear Tazi:

I am technically a twenty year old woman. I say "technically" because I am not at all feminine. I am completely flat-chested and built like a man. I prefer to dress in men's clothing, wear my hair short and spiked like a man, hang out with men over women (I hate shopping and other girly-girl stuff). From the baseball cap I wear on my head to the Michael Jordans [sneakers] I wear on my feet, I look like a man, just a baby-faced one. My problem is that, since graduating high school where I knew everyone and starting a college where I do not, I now get mistaken for a lesbian, which I am not, or hit-on by straight women who think I am a guy, which is also upsetting. Short of wearing a sign that declares me to be a heterosexual woman, do you have any ideas on how to get around this awkward issue?


Dear Dude:

From the description you give, you fit the description of a female transvestite (which is the sociological term for your style preferences). Among cross-dressers (the preferred term) you are in the minority - most are men who dress as women - but are also among the more socially accepted of the gender diverse.

Diane Keaton (above) is frequently mistaken for Andy Warhol (below)

The fact that you are mistaken for a man by straight women can be corrected by adding simple touches that will not compromise you as a person (for example, jewelry and perfume). If you are truly uncomfortable wearing anything that signals that you are female, you can work towards altering people's perception of you through your use of vocabulary. For example, instead of saying "I have to use the bathroom" you can say "I have to use the ladies' room", thus signaling that you are female by birth. You do not have to be a "girly girl" or dress in pink for the world to understand that you are female; but you will have to make an effort to identify yourself as a straight woman if that is how you wish people to see you.

Most people are accustomed to dividing people into one category OR another; so when someone comes along who fits one category AND another it can be difficult for some to process. Before a woman - straight or lesbian - works up the courage to hit on you, she probably sends out signals that she is interested (flipping her hair, gently touching your arm, etc.). By learning to read these signals, you can self-identify as a straight woman before the conversation takes a turn for the embarrassing.


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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Student Seeks To Be An Anthropological Tourist Before "Getting Serious" About Life

Dear Tazi:

I am finishing high school this year, and it is my lifelong dream to travel the world for a few years before getting serious and deciding on a career path. I have been saving money from my after school job – my parents think it will be used towards college – and I could work as a migrant fruit picker for extra cash, as/if needed. Being American, I grew up privileged and I want to learn how “the other half” lives. My parents are completely against my dream and have told me that if I follow it that I can forget about any financial assistance from them when I decide the time is right for me to go to college.

I would love to tell my parents to keep their money, but I am not certain I will be able to finance my own college education and I do not want to compromise my future by stringing myself out on student loans. Tazi, can you think of a way that would allow me to follow my dream and please my parents at the same time?

The Seeker

Dear The Seeker:

It appears that you want the best of both worlds – or at least the best of your world while exploring the worst of other worlds. Do you realize how dehumanizing migrant work is? Those who work such jobs are paid a pittance so Americans can eat affordable fresh produce, and they do it so they can put food in the mouths of their families, not so they can follow their dream of seeing how “the other half” lives. The “other half” is not a living documentary for your curious mind to explore; they are people and I refuse to approve of your dream to exploit them.

Don't be this person!

If you are truly interested in other cultures, societies, and people of different socioeconomic backgrounds I suggest you go to college, as your parents would prefer, and study Anthropology and Sociology. This major will not only allow you to explore the world (travel is a requirement of this major); it will also teach you how to professionally study cultures that are different from your own so you do not act the part of the Ignorant American, insulting people with your extreme candor and embarrassing your country on a world stage.

I am a cat; extreme candor is expected of me. You are a human; gentrified manners are expected of you. I suggest that you look into colleges with a strong Cultural Anthropology program (Brown University is one) and learn more about the job opportunities in this field.

Perfunctory Snuggles,

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wife Is Having Issues With The Lack Of "Litterbox" Privacy

Dear Tazi:

I am going to write this in terms you can understand, since cats and human have differing habits. I am a newlywed (six months married) and for some reason, every morning my husband "Joe" insists on barging in on me when I am "using my litterbox", if you know what I mean. He insists that he, too, needs to use the room where the "litterbox" is located to shave, shower, etc. and that since we are married we should not keep closed doors between us. I say that there is no quicker way to kill the romance of a relationship than seeing someone in such a private and undignified position.

Our "litterbox room" does not have a lock on the door, so I am unable to shut Joe out while I am doing my business. I have tried waking up 5 minutes earlier, but then Joe follows suit. I have tried taking a shower first, but then Joe waits until I am out of the shower and using the "litterbox" before barging in once again. This behavior has been going on since we returned from our honeymoon and for me that honeymoon is quickly fading as this rude and annoying habit takes hold. Any ideas on how to solve this issue, Tazi-Kat? Other than this, my marriage is good.

Privacy, Please

Dear P.P.:

I must confess that, as a cat, I hate closed doors and will also barge in on people who are using the "flushable litterbox" just so the door will remain open and the room accessible. You are referring to your flushable litterbox in your letter, right?

Sorry, this seat is taken!

I can understand your desire for privacy while "doing your business", too, since I do not like when people watch me using my litterbox. For cats, it is a matter of personal defense - it is rather difficult to run from or attack a predator while you are in a squat position and unable to get out of it. For humans, it is a desire for privacy, which is something some people desire more than others.

If you have explained to your husband your desire for privacy during your personal waste-removal processes, and he has refused it, then it would seem that there is more to this than meets the eye. You say that your husband actually waits for you to start using your "litterbox" before barging in on you. Since your husband is not a young child who is afraid to be separated from its mother, this tells me that the problem is probably one of a few things:

Your husband is domineering, and likes the idea of being able to exert control over you by "attacking" at a moment you cannot defend yourself

Your husband has a warped sense of humor, and he finds your personal humiliation to be funny

Your husband has a fetish for what goes on when you are using the flushable litterbox.

All three of these possibilities are issues that should not be taken lightly, and not simply because they are invasive of your privacy. Over time, these issues could escalate. Although there is also the possibility that your husband does not suffer from any of the above issues, I would still recommend that the two of you speak with a counselor about his behavior. If your husband refuses to go with you, then go alone. Exploring this issue might help you learn to diffuse your reaction to your husband's inappropriate behavior - because it sounds like an adverse reaction is what your husband is seeking.

-- Tazi-Kat

Monday, February 24, 2014

West African "Prince" Leaves Dad Crying In The Purple Rain

Dear Tazi:

My issue all started because of junk email. Due to my father's addiction to Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes and other types of "instant millionaire" scams, my siblings and I have had to intercept his mail. The snail mail goes directly to my sister, "Gretchen", who handles his bill payments and other financial issues; the email goes directly to my account, so I may monitor him while he is online. I have a very high security SPAM filter, so absolutely nothing gets through that should not. Needless to say my father is not happy with this arrangement, but it is in his best interest.

I have discovered that my father has opened a second, secret email account with an address very similar to mine; so when he logs on it appears he is on my account, unless I look very closely at the address. I am not certain how long he has had this account, but it appears to have been long enough to cause some serious damage to his finances. Last week, when Gretchen was reviewing his bank accounts, she noticed one of them had been drained of all money by a West African bank. Dad freely admits that he cashed a check for several thousand dollars as part of a plan "to help an African prince escape his war torn country"; and needless to say (again) the whole plot was a scam - the international check bounced and my father is on the hook for the full amount since he "forwarded the money to the prince" after taking the 10% cut promised to him.

Gretchen and I tried talking to the customer service department at the local branch of our father's bank, but there is nothing they can do to get - or give - my father’s money back to him. My sister and I are understandably furious over the situation. However, Gretchen is angry at me, saying that the whole situation is my fault and that I should have been keeping a closer eye on Dad's e-mail. Tazi, she is the one who handles Dad's finances, and she was the one who left his name on the accounts so that he could withdraw money at any time!

Gretchen is talking about suing me on behalf of our father (she has financial power of attorney) to get back the money he lost. The amount I would have to pay if I lost would be substantial, and my husband and I would have to drain our retirement savings to do so. We have generously offered to a three-way split of the cost of the loss with Gretchen and my father, but she will not hear of it. She wants "full compensation" for what she sees as my carelessness and what I see as my father's underhanded deception and stupidity. What should we do, Tazi? The rest of my siblings are giving the situation a wide berth.

At A Huge Loss

Dear At A Huge Loss:

In order to cover my behind legally, I must first point out that the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes is not a scam - they really do give away thousands of dollars in cash prizes every year, and no purchase is necessary to win. They are, in fact, a very reputable organization. If only all mail-in sweepstakes forms were sent from companies that were just as honest...

As for the issue with your father, the first thing you want to do is report the case to your local Post Office Inspector General. Your father may have been the victim of mail fraud. If the money he received - or sent - was wired or mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, it falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S.P.S. Inspector General's Office. If it was sent/received through Western Union or other privately owned money-wiring service; it is a matter for the FBI. The crime can be reported through the Internet Crime Reporting Center. Although there is no guarantee that your father will get his money back, reporting the crime to the proper authorities is a step in the right direction.

As for financially compensating your father, I think your plan is both generous and fair to all involved. Yes, your sister is correct that it was your place to monitor your father's Internet activity. Even in spite of his falsified email address, had you been monitoring your Dad while he was online this issue probably would not have occurred. However, you are correct in pointing out your sister's failure to remove your father's name (at least as a signatory) from his bank accounts, thus allowing him to follow through with his get-rich-quick scheme. By putting yourselves in a position of power over your father, you must also accept the responsibility that comes with it. This does not mean that your father is off the hook, though. He has a helping of responsibility to accept in this matter, too. Had it not been for his duplicitous behavior, he would not have received the initial email that started this entire problem. Your husband is quite generous in his acceptance of this plan, and it tells me he takes his wedding vows (especially the "for richer or for poorer part) very seriously! My compliments to the man on this matter!

Right now, you need to give Gretchen some time to cool down from the shock of this situation. Should she continue with her threats to sue you, all I can advise is to contract with a good lawyer to represent you. In the meantime, I suggest you check out the website The site offers a good hard look at the Internet and email scams that are out there.

-- Tazi-Kat

Sincerest thanks to the FBI's Providence, RI office for the information provided in answering today's column! -- T. K.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Aging Gracefully Is Better Than Not Aging At All

Dear Tazi:

I have an odd issue and I am uncertain about how to proceed. Last Saturday morning I ran out to the Super Wal-Mart to pick up a few items I hadn't realized I'd run out of, and I caught sight of myself in one of the reflective metal surfaces at the meat counter - and I didn't recognize myself! I looked much older than I always thought I looked, and am wondering just how long I have looked this way. I don't have the money for a makeover, and am feeling very blue about this whole issue. In fact, my self-esteem is tanking over it. Do you have any suggestions on where to go from here?

Old Lady

Dear Old Lady:

Let me get this straight: You caught an quick glimpse of yourself in what was probably a scratched, possibly dented, and most likely smudged metal surface that produced a distorted reflection at a time that you were probably not looking your best in the first place, having run out of the house unexpectedly. And you trust this one image over the mirror into which you usually look?

Seeing ourselves as we truly look in the moment as opposed to how we see ourselves in our "magic mirrors" can be truly jarring at times; but you also need to consider the reflective source and how you looked at the time your image was being reflected. Most women I have seen do not make-up their face and do their hair to go to Walmart on a Saturday morning; and judging from the pics posted on the People of Walmart site, most people in general do not take care with their personal appearance before skedaddling out the door to the local superstore. Does this make you feel at all better?

Except for our man, Willy. He ALWAYS looks fresh when going to Walmart!

Expensive cosmetics and trips to the salon are a nice way to pamper oneself, but are not necessary to reverse the aging process. A bottle of drugstore moisturizer will do wonders towards improving the firmness of your skin, and a box of Miss Clairol will cover the gray. Control-top pantyhose and tummy control jeans can help hold a jiggly middle in place, and wearing age-appropriate clothing will go far towards giving you a more tailored appearance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and water will also improve your personal appearance by keeping your body healthy. Nothing helps a person look younger like the glow of good health! Nothing ages a person faster than the stress of worry and anxiety...and cigarette smoking, so if you do smoke now might be a good time to quit!

I also suggest that you ask a few close, trusted friends to give you an honest and constructive critique of your personal appearance. You may discover that you are not really an "old lady" after all, and were simply having a bad day! If you still feel the need for personal improvement - or if your friends suggest it - keep in mind that as people get older, they invariably start to show signs of age. This is nothing to feel blue about; but rather it is something to embrace! Aging is a natural part of life, and much more preferable to the alternative of dying young and leaving a great looking corpse.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Trekkie Seeks A Better Life...And Maybe A Woman to Share It With

Dear Tazi:

I am a 28-year-old man living in my mother's basement. Like the stereotype goes, I enjoy role-playing games, attending conventions, and collecting Star Trek memorabilia. Yes, I even speak Klingon, a language that my father taught me when I was still a child. I never really realized how out of control my obsession had gotten, until yesterday when I received a wedding invitation in the mail...from my youngest cousin, who just turned 18. I, on the other hand, have never even had a real girlfriend - just coffee dates with women I meet at conventions.

I want to change my life for the better, but I don't know how. I majored in Philosophy in college, and currently make a living as a writer for - as you probably just guessed - Star Trek fanzines and other science-fiction magazines. I make enough money that I could easily afford my own place, but then I would have to stop buying collectible merchandise (I spend upwards of $20,000 a year on it). My mother has no problem with me living at home, but I have been thinking about this all day and I think this could be one of the reasons I don't date. Who wants to bring a woman back to his Mom's place? Do you have any suggestions on how to give my life a complete makeover? I have no one else to ask.

Live Long And Prosper,

Dear Spockie 1983:

I have always thought people like you were an urban legend, and yet here you are! I find it admirable that you have come to your own conclusion that life is passing you by, and that it was not forced upon you by others. This will make your "life makeover" much easier to handle. In order to do this you will not have to abandon all that interests you; rather, you will have to expand your horizons beyond that of your current, limited interests.

Politics is one place where a Philosophy degree is always helpful to have. Often times, debate is based upon philosophical principles, so you may find volunteer work for a candidate in whom you believe to be a viable interest. The good news is that 2014 is an election year, so your choices are seemingly unlimited. Such volunteer work can be fit into your work schedule, and will get you out of the basement and around other people - men and women - who have their own varied interests outside of politics, as well, which will expose you to the myriad of opportunities that exist beyond the Starship Enterprise.

Coffee shops are also a good place to chill out and meet people; as the conversation is friendly and free-flowing, and the topics vary like the weather. If coffee is not your thing, you could try roaming your local bookstore - with thousands of books on hundreds of topics, you are bound to find something beyond the realm of Sci-Fi that catches your interest; and broadening your interests is the first step in breaking the hold that your current interests have on your life.

Once you have taken steps towards broadening your interests, the next step is to move out of Mom's basement. As comfortable as basements can be, the fact remains that they are usually dark and somewhat chilly, and prone to water damage. Basements do not make for the healthiest human surroundings. If you do not wish to move far from your mother, you can find an apartment that is close-by to her. If she is financially dependant upon you, perhaps you can use some of the money you would normally spend on collectibles and put it towards her financial security.

If you are still unhappy with your life after giving these changes a chance to take root, perhaps it is not your life that is making you unhappy. Depression can take many forms, and getting screened for it may be a good idea. I wish you much "Q'apla"!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Average" Person Doesn't Know How Special She Really Is!

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am an average person. I have an average income for someone my age, I am average looking, I live in an average neighborhood, drive an average car...I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture: I am boring. My best friend "Kate" is the exact opposite of me. Kate is fascinating. She is the woman that every person wants as their best friend - why she picked me, I have no idea. Kate is the woman who always looks completely put-together from the moment she rolls out of bed; I am the woman who looks like she could use a makeover. Kate is the woman who leads a charmed life; I am the woman who struggles to accomplish mediocrity.

Kate gets straight A's in school with what appears to be minimal effort. She is organized and disciplined without being a total geek; she has her choice of guys to date, but says she does not have time for a serious commitment, and does not wish to involve herself in a casual relationship. In other words, she is single by choice. Kate is the leader of every cool committee or club in school, and she manages to delegate responsibility so well that people actually want to do the work for her - she never has to beg people or do more than her share of work because it did not get done by those who fell through on their word. Every promise people make to Kate is honored.

The other day, Kate confided in me that she is feeling "rather blue"; that her life is not what she would like it to be and that she feels like she cannot be herself any more - like she has to be the person people have come to think she is at all times. Quite honestly, I was shocked because she makes it look so easy; and even though I hate to admit it, I was glad that Kate is unhappy. I mean, why should one person get to hog all the happiness? I realize this makes me a horrible friend, and I would like to somehow get over these feelings. I have no money for counseling, and would feel weird talking to a total stranger. A cat on the other hand...well, talking to a cat feels right. Can you offer me any words of advice, Tazi-Kat?

Average Jo

Dear Average Jo:

As a cat, I can understand why you would be jealous of your friend Kate because many people are jealous of me and the life that I lead. Because I am a house-cat, people assume that my life is all naps, treat, soft blankets, more naps, and play-time; but I do have some very serious responsibilities! I keep the backyard rodent population under control, guard my Mommie while she sleeps, and tolerate all of the hugs and snuggles household visitors seek of me. On top of all this, there are times when I would actually like some affection but everyone is too busy to give me some! Has it occurred to you that maybe this is how your friend Kate is feeling? That she is so busy being all that people expect of her that she does not have time to just let it all hang out?

It's not all spa days and catnip toys, you know!

As for Kate's looks, as beautiful as I think my Mommie is, I have learned that no woman "rolls out of bed" looking completely put-together. Your friend Kate is no exception to this, and I am certain she has bad hair days just like everyone else - she has just learned to hide them better, and that could very well be the crux of Kate's blue mood. When we hide our true feelings, negativity builds up inside of us - just as it has been building up inside of you!

You may want to find some time to spend with Kate, just the two of you. Go grab a coffee or lunch, and be honest with her as you have been with me. Tell her you are feeling jealous of how amazing she is, and how average you feel you are. I am sure that in Kate's eyes, you are anything but average - after all, you are her best friend, and that means you are someone very special in her eyes. Take the time to find out who the real Kate is - the woman behind the perfect image. You may discover that she has been so busy pretending to be herself that she no longer knows who she truly is. Often times, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, but that is because the cesspool lies directly beneath it.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Livin' On A Prayer (Instead Of A Budget) Irritates Friend

Dear Tazi:

I have a friend who is an absolute diva!  Anything she wants, she gets and worries about the bill later.  This would not concern me so much if it were not for the fact that she keeps trying to drag me down with her.  If she wants a pedicure, she insists I come along; when I tell her I can’t afford one, she replies, “Sure you can!  You just think you can’t!”  No, Tazi, I really can’t….plus I live in the North and open-toe shoe season is over.  Nobody is going to see my feet anyway!  This is just one example of “Tonya’s” irresponsibility.  There are many more.

Tonya has always kept her spending a secret from her husband, arguing that she can do what she wants with her “allowance”.  Tonya pays the bills – her husband does not want the responsibility – so her husband cannot see the hundreds of dollars she spends every month on stuff she does not need.

Tonya’s husband just lost his job, and they have had to cut back on a lot of things, including cable TV; cigarettes and alcohol; date nights; coffee shop coffee; and laundry service – but Tonya still spends money on stupid stuff!  This week she wanted me to go with her to get our Tarot cards read.  She said the psychic is very reputable, which is why she costs so much, but Tonya wanted to know how much longer she was going to have to “pinch pennies”.  Tazi, she isn't!  Although I accompany her on most of her outings, I do not indulge myself.  I am now starting to feel resentful towards Tonya for the way she spends money she does not have while her husband joneses for a cigarette.  I completely understand how he feels, and want to say something to him.  Should I?

The REAL Penny-Pincher

Dear The REAL Penny-Pincher:

I can see how your friend’s attitude would disgust you; I am mildly disgusted by her myself and I have not had to sit next to her as Miss Cleo tells her the future. While I believe in the gift of reputable psychics I also believe that there is an appropriate time to visit one - and when you are down and out is not that time. The same can be said for pedicures and other indulgences.

I would advise against telling Tonya’s husband just where all their money is going; if he has any interest in knowing he can step up to the responsibility of assisting with the household budget.  I am aware that in most marriages one person handles the finances, but the other spouse is generally aware of where the money is being spent.  Willful ignorance offers its own rewards, as well as its own punishments.

You are wise not to spend money that you do not have to spend, even in the face of temptation.  Unfortunately, watching Tonya’s high rolling behavior sounds like it is dragging on your spirits.  May I suggest a compromise?  The next time Tonya suggests something that costs money – pedicures, Tarot readings, lunch at a fancy restaurant – counter-offer with an idea that is low-cost or free.  Colleges and universities frequently host lectures that are free and open to the public; in many areas, museums offer free admission on the first Saturday of the month; and your public library is a great place to look at local artwork, find a good book, or just chill with a friend!  If none of this appeals to you, why not try people watching at Walmart?  The view is always an interesting one!                                                                                        
Willy the Pimp. So this is who Frank Zappa was singing about...
Photo courtesy of

If you cannot convince Tonya to leave Macy's and return to Walmart (figuratively speaking, although quite literally as well) you will have to tell her that you will no longer be a party to her wasteful spending. Then, find your own way to keep busy with other friends. There are other fish in the sea!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beer Drinker Wants Pot Smoker To Quit, Refuses To Kick His Own Habit

Dear Tazi:

I have a girlfriend that I love very much and who I would like to make my wife. There is just one thorn between us that we cannot seem to resolve. "Sheila" likes to smoke pot. She smokes it on a daily basis, several times a day. She claims that it relaxes her, and provides a host of medical benefits; however, these "medical benefits" have not been scientifically proven and I feel that she is actually harming her health. If she were to quit smoking pot I would drop to one knee in an instant.

The other side of this picture is that I like to drink beer. I do not drink hard liquor and, unlike pot, alcohol has scientifically proven medical benefits. I do not drink to excess - usually I will have no more than a six-pack a night - and I feel that the health benefits I derive from alcohol outweigh Sheila's objections that I may be harming my liver.

I have asked Sheila to stop smoking pot, and she has said she would - if I quit drinking. I believe that what she is asking is unreasonable, considering the fact that alcohol is not illegal and pot is (at least for now). I think she only offered to quit smoking pot under these circumstances because she knew I would say no to giving up beer which, as I have mentioned, has proven medicinal effects.

What is your opinion, Tazi? Is Sheila being unreasonable or am I - as she claims - being a hypocrite?

Beer Man

Dear Beer Man:

As much as I dislike marijuana and the many questionable studies done on it, I have to admit that it does have some redeeming qualities (it can work as a pain killer or to relieve anxiety; it cannot cure lung cancer). If Sheila is using marijuana in moderation and for a diagnosed medical condition such as anxiety or chronic pain and it offers her relief that she cannot get through legally acceptable medical means, than I condone the use of it. This, however, is a lot of "if's" and "and's".

As for your drinking habit - for that really is what it is - you should not try to excuse it with the reasoning that alcohol has medical benefits. Yes, it has been proven that a moderate intake of alcohol is beneficial; however, your intake is not considered "moderate" by any accepted scientific opinion! Two 12-ounce beers per day is considered the maximum amount of alcohol that should be imbibed before damage to one's liver and kidneys will start to occur. Your habit of "usually" not drinking "more than a six-pack a night" means you drink to excess on a regular basis, and any medicinal benefits you are receiving are overridden by the damage you are causing to your body.

Since you ask my opinion I will give it: I think you are being a hypocrite, and that you and Sheila both need to seek professional help - for your habits, and for your relationship. I would advise that neither of you consider marriage until you have learned to fight fair, and to respect each other. In other words, learn to see how you look through the eyes of the other, and move forward from there.

Perfunctory Snuggles,

P.S. Do you even know for certain if Sheila would say yes to your marriage proposal? --T.K.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Unlocked Door Is A Burglar's Dream Come True!

Dear Tazi:

I am a widowed woman who lives with my elderly mother-in-law, "Millie", so as to assist her around the house. This arrangement allows her to stay in her own home, and helps me to feel more secure - both financially (I do pay rent, but much less than I would pay for a private apartment; Millie has no mortgage) and personally. My problem is my feelings of personal safety are starting to dwindle.

About six months ago, Millie and I brought home a shelter cat, for companionship and to keep the field mice that have invaded our yard in check. Since we do not have a pet-door installed, we must personally see to letting "Bruiser" in and out of the house. Millie does not sleep well at night, and has taken to letting Bruiser out in the middle of the night - and then forgetting to lock the door behind her when she returns to bed. When I wake up in the morning and find the door unlocked, I am completely unnerved; and I find that Millie's bad habit is now affecting my sleep. Whenever I hear a strange noise in the night I am petrified that someone has entered the house to rob us.

I have mentioned my concerns to Millie, but she just pooh-pooh's me, as if I am acting like a scared child. Tazi-Kat, my late husband was a police officer. He always insisted we keep the doors locked against the risk of home invasion, and passed this lesson on to Millie and his father, as well. He would tell me that most robberies occurred due to unlocked doors and windows, and as a police officer he saw more than his share of heartbroken homeowners who wished they had taken such simple precautions against theft and other crimes!

With the holidays just past, the annual rise in home invasions is set to occur as thieves are on the lookout for brand new big-screen TV's and other electronics; fine jewelry (from Christmas and Valentine's Day); and other in-demand items, like computers/laptops that go on sale in January (and, according to my late husband, get stolen in February!). I do not care for our house to be on some burglar’s hit-list! Do you have any advice on how to get Millie to see the seriousness of the situation?

Not A Scaredy-Cat!

Dear Not A Scaredy-Cat:

You do not say how old Millie is, just that she is "elderly"; but with age can come stubbornness. Millie is probably very set in her ways, so trying to get her to develop new habits is going to be an exercise in futility. However, if Millie's forgetting to lock the doors is a new habit - did she ever follow her son's advice about locking doors? - perhaps she should be screened for illnesses that affect memory - Alzheimer's, senility, dementia, or other issues that will escalate if not caught and treated early. According to WebMD, early signs of these diseases include difficulty exercising good judgment and sudden changes in personal habits.

As for the problem of the unlocked doors, perhaps a pet-door would be the solution to your problem? They are relatively easy to install, as well as inexpensive. A pet-door for a cat - even one as large sounding as one named "Bruiser" - will not be anywhere near big enough for a human to squeeze through, so it will not compromise your safety. Some pet doors also come with locking mechanisms, so you can secure them if that is your preference. As for wild-life finding their way though it, once Bruiser starts using it your friendly neighborhood squirrels and field mice will give it a wide berth,so this should not be a cause for concern either.

Thank you so much for your wise insight into theft and how thieves think - something many an honest person would never have realized!


P.S. I compliment you on your wise choice to adopt a shelter cat! Although most people want kittens, you don't know what kind of cat they will become! With a grown cat, you know the personality of the cat you are adopting. (Yep, my Mommie lucked out when I chose her! She got herself a top-of-the-line quality feline who loooooves to snuggle!).

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New Cat Or A New Boyfriend? Tough Decision!

Dear Tazi:

My precious Boots, my childhood cat, died a few years ago and I finally feel ready to get a new cat. the problem is the man I have been dating for about six months has told me he is "not a cat person". He has no physical reason for disliking cats - he is not allergic to them and he claims he was never scratched or traumatized by one; he just says that cats have "taken over the Internet" and he thinks they are annoying.

I have tried to tell "Kevin" that not all cats are annoying; some are cuddly, some are aloof, some are playful, and some are not. I have told him that cats are like people - they have different personalities and the key is to find the right match, which is why I would adopt a cat, not a kitten. Kevin has told me that if I adopt a cat it would spell the end of our relationship.

I like Kevin - a lot - but I am not sure where things are going to end up with us. We have only been together for six months. I am considering waiting another six months to a year to see if we are going to be a permanent couple or even get married, but at the same time I do not like the idea of basing such an important decision on his feelings alone. We do not live together nor have we discussed that yet - like I said, we have only been together for six months. What's your (admittedly biased) opinion, Tazi?

Cat Lover

Dear Cat Lover:

If you wanted to have children and Kevin did not, would you put your desires aside or find someone new? If you wanted to live in the country and Kevin wanted to live in the city would you move to the city to please him? If you like to vacation in the tropics and Kevin preferred to go skiing would you head to the mountains to please him? A successful relationship is about compromise without compromising yourself. Kevin's cold attitude and his ultimatum towards your want/need for a cat has me more concerned than the length of your relationship or where it is going.

Of course, you don't want THIS either!

If I were you, I would hold off on adopting a cat until you and Kevin have had a deeper talk about his one-way attitude. You do not live together, so it is not like he would be interacting with your cat (we felines are notorious for disappearing when people who do not like us enter our domicile). Ask Kevin where he sees your relationship going. Doe she see you moving in together when your/his lease expires? If you get a "maybe" tell him that you are not going to base an important decision upon someone else's "maybe". Kevin may be a great catch, but this does not mean that he is great for you. Tread cautiously, and hold onto your heart for at least a little while longer.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Daughter Does Not Pay Back Loan, Dad Refuses To Pay For Her Wedding

Dear Tazi:

I have been planning my dream wedding since I was a teenager and now my father is about to ruin it all because he is being cheap! He thinks he is teaching me "a lesson in financial responsibility" but I think if I haven'rt learned it by now ruining my wedding day is not the way to teach it to me!

When I was in college my father and I had an agreement - he would pay for my schooling so long as I maintained good grades. If my G.P.A. dropped below a 3.0 I would have to pay my own way through school. He would continue to pay for my tuition and expenses so I could work on bringing my grades back up but that money would constitute a loan and not a gift.

I had a great time in college, and worked hard. but my sophomore year I decided to pledge my sorority. It was the best decision ever and I do not regret it, but because of the added stress of pledging my GPA slipped to a flat 3.0; the following semester commitments to my sisterhood, combined with a heavy course load, resulted in a semester of straight C's and my GPA reflected this. Although I made the grades required for my sorority I did not make the grades required to please my father. He told me that I might want to get a good summer job to defray the cost of returning to college so I wasn't facing a large loan to pay back upon graduation. I could not believe he actually meant that! It's not like we had a signed contract or anything!

My grades improved and I managed to graduate cum laude after busting my hump the next two years to keep my father off my back. After graduation, my father told me he was proud of me and even threw me a party but made no mention of my "loan" until six months later, when he told me I needed to start paying on it. Again, I could not believe he was serious! I had only just secured a job and was moving out of my Mom's house (my parents are divorced) and into my own apartment. I played along and told my Dad I needed more time. That was three years ago, and since I don't see Dad that often he hasn't brought up the subject all that much since then.

My boyfriend is finishing graduate school and he proposed to me this past Christmas. I am very excited and looking forward to our wedding. When I told my father the good news he congratulated me and told me he was happy for me - and that was it. He made no mention of my "loan" (as he always does when he sees me) but also no offer to pay for my wedding. When I mentioned this to my Mom, she said she would talk to him about the cost of my wedding, since traditionally the bride's family pays for the wedding.

Tazi, you can imagine my shock and upset when my Mom reported back that my father is refusing to pay for my wedding unless I pay off my "college loan"! He told me that we had an agreement and that I did not live up to my end of the bargain, and now I owe him the $15,000 he paid towards my tuition and living expenses while I "paid for the semester spent partying" by bringing my GPA back up to where he wanted it. This is NOT fair! My mother has limited income and cannot afford to foot the entire bill for my wedding, while my father has done quite well for himself since their divorce. My mother is talking about borrowing against her retirement funds or taking out a home equity loan, but she should not have to do this! Not when my father could easily afford to write a check to pay for the entire wedding, plus honeymoon!

When I approached Dad I told him how angry I was, and he offered what he thinks is a compromise - he will give me $5,000 towards the estimated $20,000 cost of my dream wedding and forgive my "debt" to him. As far as I am concerned, this is not a compromise and I owe him nothing - like I said, it's not like I signed a contract or anything! And besides, isn't there a statute of limitations on unpaid debts? Can you help my father see reason?

Daddy's Not-So-Little Girl

Dear Daddy's Not-So-Little Girl:

You are correct that your father cannot force you to pay your debt to him because there was no contract stating you were taking on your college expenses as a loan and not a gift. However, I doubt you have a contract with your father stating that he will be responsible for paying for your wedding, do you? Your insistence on a binding contract regarding financial assistance goes both ways. Just as you are not legally obligated to re-pay your father for your college expenses he is under no legal obligation to cover the costs of your wedding. Your moral obligations to each other are something else entirely.

To put it plainly, your attitude stinks! The time to deal with your situation was years ago, when your grades first dropped below what your father considered an acceptable return on his investment in your education. You blew off his advice as a sad little joke and now the joke is on you. If any family were in dire need of counseling it is yours.

Your mother should not have to go into debt to pay for your wedding, and if you accept any assistance she offers from her retirement account of home equity you will continue to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. Nowadays many couples are financing their own weddings. If you want to prove to your father that you are a mature, financially responsible young woman than I suggest that you apologize to him for your disrespect, accept his compromise, and start saving for your upcoming nuptials. Since you graduated college (mostly) debt free you should be able to save a tidy sum without too much difficulty. Since your father is willing to kick in $5,000 your mother will probably want to do the same; if this does not cause her financial hardship you have my blessing to accept it. This brings you to 50% of the total cost of your wedding. If you want to start married life debt free, you may want to downsize your wedding to meet your budget and put anything you and your fiance save towards the purchase of a home. A wedding is not about a diamond and a party - it is about a marriage.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

LinkedIn Is Not "Facebook Plus", Should Not Be Used For Romantic Connections

Dear Tazi:

I am a sophomore in college and am sick and tired of dating immature little boys who think they are men just because their birth certificate says they are. I have asked my older sister if she could set me up with someone more mature, but she tells me that I am too young, and besides she would not feel comfortable setting me up with one of her friends or colleagues (there is a 10 year age difference between us).

I recently received a "connect" request from a friend to join LinkedIn. She is a year older than me and very smart. She will be graduating college a year early because she took early enrollment courses while still in high school and has gone to school summers, which has put her a year ahead in her program. Anyway, she put together a LinkedIn profile because she is looking for work and wanted to have a professional online profile where she can network with people who will make her look good. She asked me to create a page because I am a Dean's List student and she wants to show people that she hangs out with responsible and mature people.

While I was on LinkedIn I noticed a lot of really good looking men who are not much older than me (mid-twenties) and have fantastic jobs! They don't say how much they are earning, but it looks like big bucks from their job descriptions and the pictures of them in suits and ties! In addition to connecting with people I know I have scoped out a few people who work in the field I hope to go into after I graduate - you know, to network with them and to hopefully score a sweet internship or even a paid part-time job. And yes, I have asked several of the cute guys I found to connect with me because I am hoping to meet someone special. Someone mature, who has his life in order and is looking for a good woman for more than a good time.

I am not overly obvious about my intentions, always choosing men who attended the same college as me (so it looks like I am trying to connect with the alumni) or who know someone I know. My problem is that I requested one of my sister's co-workers. He recognized the last name and since my sister and I look a lot alike he figured out the connection and assumed I was looking to connect because I have an interest in their professional field (she is a lawyer, and I am a Political Science major, so duh...I can see why he would think that way. He even commented about it to my sister, and asked if I would be applying for an internship with their firm. While I thought he was expressing interest in me it turns out he is gay and is really just interested in helping me out because he respects my sister's work.

My sister on the other hand figured out what I was doing in about three seconds flat and freaked on me! She is demanding that I pull my LinkedIn profile and stop using it to try and get a date. I don't think I am doing anything wrong, and besides I have a perfectly legit reason for being on LinkedIn - to help my friend boost her image and yes to make business contacts of my own for when I graduate in two years. My sister has threatened to tell our Mom and while I don't know what she would do I know what she could do and that would make my life pretty miserable.

I don't think what I am doing is all that wrong! I haven't hit on anyone (outright) yet and have had no complaints about the comments I have left for people and the emails asking to meet for coffee. What do you think? Am I wrong for lookin gout for my own future?

Future Professional

Dear Future Professional:

Linkedin is not "Facebook Plus", where people are willing to reveal even more personal information about themselves than they would ever dream of revealing on social media. This is why LinkedIn has very strict privacy settings and why many people use them. In many cases, if you do not know someone's email address you cannot even send them a request to connect! This should tell you something: that LinkedIn is not a dating/hookup site! If you are interested in that there are plenty of online personal site for you to peruse.

He's looking to make a professional connection, not a love connection!

For the sake of your (future) professional credibility I suggest you stop pursuing a romance through your professional profile and instead work towards making industry connections, as your friend is doing. Start with making a basic profile and posting classes taken and samples of the work completed in those classes. Note any awards and honors you have received (Dean's List is a big one, so don't sell yourself short!). Keep your profile picture tasteful; use a professional looking head-shot if you have one, not a picture of you in a string bikini. mention your career goals, and try to connect with people who would be willing to help you achieve them (like your sister's coworker). If any of your professors are on LinkedIn, politely request to connect with them so you can keep in touch with them once your class is through; an academic recommendation can go a long way when you lack professional work experience. Finally, remember that on a site like LinkedIn - or any social media - you are not only representing yourself but the people who choose to connect with you. Don't disappoint them by acting like a lovesick child.


P.S. While I can understand your frustration with "immature little boys who think they are men" you need to cut them some slack; they are enjoying their youth. Today's immature college boys are tomorrow's business professionals. Continue to demand respect from them and you will be surprised at how quickly they can man up around you!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Wedding Is Not A Fundraiser, Don't Treat It Like It Is

Dear Tazi:

I am planning my wedding and am having some trouble with the guest list. I am a young bride, and my husband to be and I have not had the time to put aside much money for our future. We figure our wedding guests will help us get off to a good start in life by giving us a wedding shower and wedding gifts to help us set up house and tuck a little money aside. The problem is that many of my friends are in college. This means they will not have the money to give cash/gifts that are equal to or greater than the value of their plate charge.

The purpose of a wedding, as I said, is to help a young couple get their start in life, not to put them into debt so you can enjoy a good party. However, I am the first of my friends to get married and don't want it to seem like I am snubbing anybody by not inviting them, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

I would like to send out two different wedding invitations - one with an invite to the ceremony, and a second with an invite to the reception, as well. The people who can afford to cover their costs and even give a little more will receive the second invite; those who would end up costing us would be invited to the wedding ceremony only. While my mother sees the practicality in my decision my future husband and his parents are "appalled" that I would even think such a thing. They have called me a "little gold-digger" and have questioned if I am the right woman for their son. Kitty, I am just trying to be practical here! I don't see my future in-laws kicking in with the cash to cover the cost of the reception!

Do you think my friends will be insulted and feel snubbed if I only invite them to the ceremony and not the reception? The ceremony is the most important part of a wedding anyway.

Bride On A Budget

Dear Bride On A Budget:

You wouldn't consider charging a cover at the door of your reception, would you? Then don't exclude guests who you think cannot afford to line your pockets. A wedding reception is not a fundraiser, so please do not treat it like one. Your guest list should reflect your close and personal ties with your guests, not the size of their wallets.

When planning a wedding the first thing you should do is decide on a budget that you can afford - by saving, cutting back, working overtime, and if necessary borrowing and using cash gifts to pay down the debt. In short, you must plan within your budget and not budget with a plan to find a way to make others pay for your celebration.

If you cannot afford to have the wedding of your dreams while including all of your guests, than you must cut back on the wedding you are planning. One idea is to have a "coffee and..." with your receiving line after your ceremony followed by a small, intimate reception for immediate family only while hosting a large, backyard bash for all of your friends and family after you return from your honeymoon. Another idea is to postpone your wedding until you have the cash to pay for all of your guests meals without expecting some sort of quid quo pro in return. (The irony of this is that by the time you are done saving they may be through with school and making enough money to pay for the kind of gifts you are seeking). Whatever you choose to do, choose to be inclusive. Those you snub today are unlikely to forget the slight when the stakes are much higher than a chicken dinner.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wedding Gift Is Over Student's Budget; Should Attendance Be Out Of The Question, Too?

Dear Tazi:

I am in my final year of college. Since my program is a five year program, most of my friends graduated last year and are now getting married. I have received several invites to weddings and showers and would like to attend them all, but financially I cannot afford it!

As soon as I receive the invitation to a wedding shower I print out the gift registry to see what kind of things the bride and groom have registered for and what is still available for purchase. I realize my friends are just starting out and need EVERYTHING, but do they really need the most expensive of everything? It seems there is nothing on the registry that costs less than $100, unless you want to buy a partial gift (one plate; $20; a set of pillowcases, $50; two bath towels, $50).

I am doing my best to pay my own way through school on scholarship, a part-time job during the school year and working 60 hours a week during the summer, and student loans that I am paying on while in school (to keep the interest on them from accruing). I am seriously strapped for cash and cannot afford to buy the things my friends want - like Pfaltzgraff dinnerware in service for eight ($200, inc. tax) or a Ralph Lauren bath towel st ($140, on sale!). I don't own stuff this nice! I can't afford it, so why should I buy it for someone else?

Thus far I have turned down every invitation that has come in, without explanation and have not sent a gift, either. Then one of my sorority sisters asked me why I didn't want to come to her wedding, and told me she was really hurt that I didn't even offer regrets with my response card - I just checked no and popped it in the mail and never said anything more.

Spring is coming so the invites for summer weddings will again be arriving in the mail and I don't know what to do or say at this point. I thought people would get the message when word got around I hadn't attended any of last season's weddings, but I am still getting Save the Date cards for Memorial Day weekend (the weekend after my graduation) and other holiday weekends. What do you suggest?

In A Tight Spot

Dear In A Tight Spot:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a "partial" gift of a single place setting or a few towels or even a set of pillowcases! I am not sure where you got the idea that you needed to buy the entire set of what has been requested, but you are under no obligation to do so; nor are you under any obligation to buy off registry. A gift registry is a list of suggestions to make gift giving easy and return-free; however, if you see something that you think the bride and groom want or need there is no reason why you should not buy it. In fact, etiquette states that it is rude for someone to even mention the existence of a gift registry, as that smacks of self-centeredness and makes it look like the bride and groom are fishing for gifts.

What's all this? We specified Benjamins ONLY!
In some cultures, it is appropriate to turn down a wedding invitation if you cannot afford to give a gift that is equal to or greater than your plate charge; in America this demand is still considered to be the height of ingratitude so don't let your short finances stop you from attending a wedding you really want to attend. It may surprise you to hear this, but your friends understand that you are a poor college student, yet they invited you to their wedding anyway; this must mean that they want you there to celebrate their special day, regardless of your ability to pony up the cash! By refusing to attend - and refusing to give an explanation - you are hurting their feelings.

If you cannot afford to give what you call a "partial gift" you can give a gift card. Many stores now have the option of putting money on a "value added card", which is a single gift card onto which multiple guests can add a gift. Before the registry is closed out the bride and groom are presented with the "added value card" to purchase any items they registered for but did not receive. It is a way for many people to pool together to buy a large gift, even if they do not know each other! You can present the bride and groom with a card and a heartfelt message expressing your happiness for them along with the gift card or an added message that you put their gift on the value added card and hope they have fun deciding on what to get.

As much as it hurts that you can't afford nice stuff, remember that your day will come and you will be the one registering for - and receiving - fine china and Egyptian cotton towels.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tazi's Corner #79 - Thoughts On Payday Lending Services Revisited

Dear Readers,

I am re-running this popular column because once again the Rhode Island General Assembly has introduced legislation to cap the interest rate that payday lenders can charge. What are your thoughts on these services?


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 the financial version of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell. One thing I have never done though is pay much attention to them since I never had a use for such a service.

This past week I was reviewing the activity of my state legislature (reading over my Mommie's shoulder, because contrary to common belief, college students and cats are both politically aware) when 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 me with a bitter taste in my mouth. 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 loan-sharking 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 living expenses. 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 the mobile phone 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? Either way, the situation is a scrambled mess.

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!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adoptee Faces Issues When Tracing Family Tree

Dear Tazi:

I have always known I was adopted - my family celebrates both my birthday and my adoption anniversary - and I have never felt unwanted or curious about my birth parents. I have a wonderful family and know that this is the reason my birth mother put me up for adoption - so I could have a better life than she could give me.

This year in my History class we are tracing our family trees, so naturally I chose to trace my adoptive family's tree - they are my family and I am a part of them. To me, this was an absolute no-brainer; I don't even think of my family as my "adoptive" family, even though I know we are not blood relatives.

It turns out I have some pretty cool ancestors! I have been able to trace my family back to both sides of the War of Northern Aggression/American Civil War and may even have Native American Indian ancestors, too! Personally, I think my family tree is by far the most interesting of all my classmates but that could also be because it is my family tree. My problem is that a few of my classmates have accused me of cheating.

One girl in my class made a big deal of pointing out that I am not "REALLY" related to any of the people in my family tree because I was adopted, and to do a "true" family tree I should have to hunt down my "true roots". A few of her (snobby) friends agreed with her and complained to the teacher, who asked me if I would be interested in finding out about my "real" family. Tazi, I walked out of the room. If I didn't I think I would have punched the guy.

Obviously, I got sent to the Vice-Principal's office for walking out of class but I didn't get in trouble because the Vice-Principal didn't know what to do about the situation. He mumbled something about talking to the teacher and sent me to the Guidance Counselor to "talk things out with a professional". The counselor was really nice and helped me calm down and even made me laugh when she called my History teacher a name I am not supposed to repeat.

I am not exactly sure why I am writing to you about this, but I think it is for a couple of reasons. The first is that I want people to understand that an adopted kid's main family is the family that adopted them; the people who raised them are their "real" family! The second reason is that I am really angry with those snobby girls that accused me of cheating, and with my teacher for asking such a stupid question. Sometimes writing stuff down helps me get my feelings out of my head. The third reason is to ask you what you think. Do you think those girls are right? I know you print a lot of stuff about adoption and even have friends who are adopted, so I want to know.

Snuggles right back at ya, little cat!

Tracing My Ancestry...I Think

Dear Tracing My Ancestry...I Think:

You humans are so silly with your distinctions. Cats see all animals as other cats, just bigger or smaller; aggressive or non-aggressive. To a cat, you humans are just really big, non-aggressive cats who are unfortunate enough to have been born without tails.

Your use of the term "War of Northern Aggression" tells me that you hail from the Southern United States, as no self-respecting Yankee would ever refer to the Civil War by that name (just like with the Battle of Bull Run/Manassas, the winner gets the naming rights). Now that I am done digressing I will get to my point...It has been my experience that people from the Deep South and New England blue bloods have one thing in common: they are both very concerned with bloodlines and personal background. It appears that your classmates are insanely jealous that your family bloodline is much more impressive than theirs, which is why they are attempting to discredit you and your ancestry project.

As far as I am concerned, your family's bloodlines are just that - your family's bloodlines. Since you are a member of your family they are your bloodlines, too! If these girls continue to give you a problem, tell them that a family tree is meant to represent the loving ties that bind people together and not just the genetic ties that occur by happenstance. Then, hold your head high and walk away from these girls who appear to have the intellectual depth of a puddle


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Man Likes To Wear Makeup. So What's The Issue?

Dear Tazi:

I am a 19 year old guy and I like to wear makeup. I don't go overboard with it, like I am trying to stand out and get attention, but I get stares anyway just because I am a guy. I generally wear a facial base to even out my skin tone and hide any blemishes; eyeliner to define my eyes; mascara because I have very long but light eyelashes and I like to show them off; and usually lipstick and matching liner to finish my look.

The way I see it is that men in theater and on TV wear makeup all the time to improve their appearance on camera, and whether people realize it or not we are on camera more often than not - from selfies to security cameras someone is always capturing us on film - so why shouldn't I make sure I look my best? Personally, I think it is sexist that women can wear makeup and nobody says anything about it. Women are encouraged to wear makeup and criticized if they don't! So why the double standard with men?

I am not gay or bisexual or even a cross-dresser. The most you could say about me is that I am metrosexual. Why do people find this so hard to accept?

Sick Of being Called "Faggot"

Dear Sick Of Being Called "Faggot":

There is more than one way to bend it like Beckham, and wearing makeup is one of them!

David Beckham, the original metrosexual

Makeup for daily wear - when worn by either sex - should enhance one's looks in such a way that a person cannot tell if it is being worn. Makeup for parties and evenings out is allowed to be much more dramatic, for its purpose is to say "LOOK AT ME!"

Although it could also mean that you are
a member of an '80's hair band
While you are correct that it is sexist to criticize a man for wearing makeup and a woman for not wearing it, it is not sexist to expect someone to present themselves appropriately, be it for work or school. In an office, men are expected to be clean shaven or to have their facial hair neatly groomed while women are expected to keep their faces as clean-looking as possible, which generally means wearing makeup that accomplishes some of the same goals you have - even facial tone with no visible blemishes; just enough color so you do not look like a corpse but not so much that you look like Tammy Faye Baker circa 1988.

Heath Ledger's inspiration for "The Joker"?

I suggest you put your makeup on as you usually do, and ask a trusted friend or two to give their honest opinion as to whether or not it is too much. Do you look more like David Beckham (above 1) or the guys from Poison (above 2)? While you may think you look fantastic - and for all I know, you probably do - your look may not be appropriate for either sex to wear to work or school. The fact that people can tell you are wearing makeup leads me to believe that you are being a little too exuberant with your makeup brushes.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.