Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Plans Make Some People Blue

Dear Tazi:

Every year my family loves to have a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. Sadly, money is very tight for me this year because I lost my job and had to take a position making less than I was; because of this, I am planning on shopping the night away at all of the Black Friday sales that Thanksgiving evening. In order to do this, I will have to sleep Thanksgiving Day. I realize that this is less than ideal, but it is truly the only way I will be able to give my two children (both teenagers) the kind of Christmas they deserve – one with lots of presents under the tree! I want this Christmas to be extra special for them because their father (my ex-husband) got remarried this year to a woman half his age and the kids are pretty upset about it.

When I told my mother about my shopping plans, she hit the roof! She told me that Thanksgiving is about family, not shopping, and that Christmas is about love, not presents. She accused me of trying to buy my children’s love with fancy gifts and told me that she had better see me at her table on Thanksgiving or I can forget coming around for Christmas.

Tazi, I think my mother is being unreasonable. I will still be sending the children to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family, so they will not be missing out; my kids will be spending Christmas Day with their father, so I will be all alone if my mother banishes me from her table for trying to do right by my kids and giving them the best Christmas ever in a year full of downers. I told my Mom that she was not seeing the big picture, and she responded that “there are none so blind as those who will not see”. I don’t think it’s right for her to start shaming me with Bible verses, especially since she knows I don’t go to church. I think that was just another one of her digs. How “Christian” is that? Can you think of a way to make my Mom see reason and to let me go about my life without shutting me out of hers?

Mama’s Girl

Dear Mama’s Girl:

Your mother is being overbearing in her demands and is holding you an emotional hostage in order to get her way…but while I disagree with her methods, I cannot say the same for her philosophy on how holidays should be spent. There is a reason why the Federal government has declared days like Thanksgiving and Christmas national holidays; it is so families can take the time off of work – without retaliation – in order to spend those days with their loved ones. (While I wish they would recognize major celebratory days of non-Christian beliefs, too, that is another argument).

Your plan to spend Thanksgiving shopping has more holes in it than a Babybel Swiss!

I am beholding the power of cheese!

To start, you mention that you want to give your children the “best Christmas ever” but seem to think abandoning them on Thanksgiving is no big deal. In a year of hardships it is more important than ever to count your blessings and hold fast to family. Dumping your children on your family to spend the day sleeping and shopping is not going to make them feel important and loved, regardless of what you buy them.

Second, by shopping on Thanksgiving you are denying store employees of the privilege (some would say right) to spend Thanksgiving with their families. This year Thanksgiving also happens to fall on the first full night of Hanukkah, so to be forced to work this day would be doubly offensive to those of the Jewish faith.

Third, I will add that Christmas is about different things to different people, but it is not about buying someone’s love through expensive gifts that you call ill afford to purchase. I understand your children are not looking forward to spending the day with their father and his new wife, but ruining their Thanksgiving in order to accomplish your plan for Christmas cheer is the wrong way to go about solving the problem.

Fourth, I want to mention that your mother was not quoting the Bible, but referencing 17th century Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714), who popularized this little known English proverb of unknown origins. Another Old English proverb is “wanting to eat your cake and have it, too” which seems to be what you want from your mother – approval to miss Thanksgiving and her open arms at Christmas. You realize that come Christmas you will need your Mom…has it occurred to you that maybe she needs you at Thanksgiving to make her holiday complete? If you want to go ahead with your Thanksgiving shopping plans you must do so without my blessing. I say that there will be enough sales between now and Christmas to equal the offerings of Black Friday.


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, November 27, 2014

A List Of Thankfuls - Tazi's Annual Thanksgiving Message

Dear Readers:

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States of America, a day we set aside each year to give pause and think about the blessings in our lives. Whatever your personal beliefs about the holiday - political, religious, or a lack of either - today is a day to give appreciation for those who make our lives special. Today, I would like to use this space to offer praise to those who make my life special; and thanks for the things that make me a happy kitty!

I am thankful for:

My Mommie, who rescued me from the shelter when I reached out to her - literally. More dead than alive when the shelter brought me in, I would huddle in the back of my cage; fearful of everyone. When she walked in, something about her attracted me. My instincts told me she would be a good Mommie, so I rushed forward; stuck my paw through the cage; hooked my claws into her sweater; and pulled her close to me. We have been inseparable ever since.

My Co-Mommie, who is actually my Grand-Mommie, but she does not like being called that. Every night, after a long day of napping (on my part, not hers) she provides a lap for me to curl up in and cuddle. I love my evening snuggles!

I don't bite when given snuggles, but belly rubs are another story!

Every morning, Co-Mommie wakes early to keep me company and take care of my needs. She claims that she wakes early to get ready for work, but I know the truth: she just wants some alone time with me, before my nap schedule kicks in for the day.

My Daddy, who was promoted from "Uncle Person" after leaving work to let me in when I got locked out and it was threatening rain.  How many men do you know would punch-out of work to rescue their girlfriend's cat from the impending rain?  Exactly!  Now you know why he is my very favorite person in the whole, wide world, and I know that he feels the same way about me! How could he not? He comes over every day just to visit with me! (He claims he comes by to see my Mommie, but I know better!).

Or maybe Daddy just knew the consequences of wetting a cat!

For something my humans call "treats". I am not sure why they taste so much better than my cat cereal (what my humans call "dry food") but there is something about them that makes me want to gorge myself...and then throw them all up on the rug to make room for more!

Pancakes are Mommie's favorite, and so I loves them, too!

For cat-nip; and for the fact that humans have yet to discover how awesome it is!

For soft blankets, on which I take my naps, and for those holes in the walls and floors where warm air blows out of when it is cold. What a great invention!

Whoever invented these things was a genius!

For all of you, who read my column; write me letters; and leave me comments. I truly enjoy writing this column; and thank you for letting me be a part of your life!

Once upon a time, I was an abandoned kitty; left on the streets to fend for myself in the cold and the snow. Now, I am safe and warm; pampered and attended to; surrounded by people who care about me, who love me no matter what (even when I jump on their pool table in the middle of a game!).

Do YOU want to be the one to tell "Morris" to move?
I have a lot for which to be thankful...and it is my hope, dear Readers, that you do as well! A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


P.S. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Think globally and act locally by giving your turkey scraps to the cat in your life!

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, November 26, 2014

Pregnant Teenage Neighbor Has Mother Worried For Her Own Daughter

[Editor's Note: The pseudonym "Jezebel" was chosen by the letter writer; the pseudonym"Carrie" was chosen by Tazi.]

Dear Tazi:

My daughter "Carrie" is seventeen. I have done my best to raise her with solid, Christian morals that are lacking in today's world. Carrie has always been a good girl, who has never given me a lick of trouble, but I am concerned about the kind of influence the girl across the street is on her.

Carrie's best friend "Jezebel" is not the good Christian girl my daughter is, as evidenced by her unplanned, pre-marital pregnancy. Jezebel's mother is thrilled that she is going to be a Grandma, and cannot stop beaming about this horrendous news. I have heard from Carrie that Jezebel's mother is redecorating a wing of her house to create a suite for Jezebel, the baby's father, and their bastard child. She is also talking about hiring a nanny to assist with the care of the child so Jezebel can finish high school and go to college.

Tazi, I have always warned my Carrie that premarital sex is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, and would result in pregnancy, which would result in a life of poverty. In one fell swoop, Jezebel's mother has destroyed all that I have tried to teach my daughter! I have informed Carrie that if she were to come home pregnant not to expect the same welcome that Jezebel has received from her mother. I have told Carrie she is no longer allowed to hang out with Jezebel.

My husband travels frequently for work, so he is not here to assist me with Carrie; raising a child alone is hard enough when you are married! Knowing this, I have altered Carrie's allowance structure. She still gets the same $100/week, but only $20 of it in cash and the rest is on a prepaid debit card. This way, I can track her purchases and see what she is buying. (Condoms? Birth control pills? An abortion?). Carrie is upset about this change, saying it is proof that I do not trust her to behave, and my husband thinks I am over-reacting; both argue that I have raised Carrie to be a certain kind of woman, and that she is not going to turn her back on that upbringing. I, however, am not convinced. Carrie suggested that I write to you, and we have agreed to abide by your decision. Tazi, am I over-reacting?

High Moral Mom

Dear High Moral Mom:

Your decision to raise Carrie to believe in an angry, vengeful God over a loving, forgiving God is your business - not your neighbors' business, so please climb down off of your high horse and stop judging them because they do not conform to your standards; let go of your anger over your neighbor's decision to support her daughter in her time of need, to welcome the birth of her first grandchild. Would you rather see the young couple dropping out of school, living in an inner-city apartment, and collecting welfare just to prove a point to your daughter? This does not sound like a very Christian attitude!

You cannot isolate your daughter from the world, so you must trust that you raised her well enough that she will want to make you proud and be the type of person you raised her to become. Jezebel (did you really have to call her that?) is going to need all the love and support she can get during a time that is bound to be stressful. However, between completing her senior year of high school, studying for her SAT's, giving birth, applying for colleges, and caring for a newborn I doubt she is going to have a whole lot of free time to hang out with her friends. Seeing this may be enough to reinforce that which you have taught your daughter about the side effects of having sex.

Your decision to keep a closer eye on Carrie's spending is one I can get behind, if only because I believe that a parent should monitor their children's spending habits, in order to help them learn responsible spending habits. Since a debit card cannot be used everywhere, and can be inconvenient for small purchases, Carrie should have some money in her pocket. It is your reasoning for switching Carrie's allowance from all cash to minimal cash and a prepaid card is, to put it bluntly, insulting. If your daughter wanted to purchase any of the things you think she might be purchasing she would find a way to do it without alerting you, by either going through friends or squirreling away money each week. For the record, on $20 cash per week, she would have to save for the duration of her pregnancy to have an abortion, which makes this worry moot.

I think you need to dial back the control you seek to have over your daughter and have an open and honest conversation with her about the fact that she will soon be an adult, off at college and on her own. Will you give her the chance to show you that she is ready to accept the challenges of being a Christian adult in a secular world?


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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In-Law Trouble Puts Family At Odds

Dear Tazi:

My sister-in-law "Jolene" (my brother's wife) and my husband have never gotten along; but I only recently discovered that the rest of my family is not too fond of my husband, either. "George" can be an overbearing, temperamental, insulting know-it-all at times; but he can also be sweet, and kind, and caring, too. This is the side of him my family does not seem to notice.

A few weeks ago, my mother held a party for my father's 65th birthday celebration. Everyone was having a great time, but after the cake was cut and slices of it were being passed around, things melted down quicker than the ice cream. My two and a half year old daughter, "Sassi" had somehow gotten hold of the knife used to slice the cake - the one metal knife among the plastic - and was about to stick it into an electrical outlet. Jolene saw what was about to happen and since she was too far away from Sassi to stop her in time, she yelled at her. She said, "NO, Sassi! You put that down RIGHT NOW!". Sassi was so surprised she did drop the knife - and then started to cry, which upset George.

George, not liking Jolene to begin with, reprimanded Jolene in front of everyone; saying it was inappropriate of her to yell at Sassi and demanded that Jolene apologize to Sassi for upsetting her. The look on Jolene's face told me this was not going to happen and I tried to intervene before things got worse, but George shushed me. Seeing this sent Jolene - a feminist - over the edge, and she told George exactly where he could shove the knife that Sassi had been holding, before storming off. My family just stood by and laughed - partly to relieve the tension, and partly because it was kind of funny to everyone but George. George then proceeded to turn on my mother, asking her why the house was not child-proofed; to which she responded, "because no children live here". George insisted we leave immediately, which we did.

It has been two weeks since we left the party, and George is still steaming about it. He will not allow my brother or sister-in-law to see Sassi until "she gets the apology she deserves" and refuses to allow me bring Sassi to visit my Mom until she has the house "professionally child-proofed". I think that George is being completely ridiculous, and once again presenting himself as a complete jerk to my family. Do you have any advice on how to mediate this situation?

Torn Between My Marriage And My Family

Dear Torn Between My Marriage And My Family:

I would first like to say that I am glad that nothing unfortunate happened to your little girl. It would have been an absolute tragedy if she had succeeded in sticking a metal knife into an electrical outlet. I have to ask: If this had happened, who would your husband be blaming for Sassi's injuries? Would he be lashing out at Jolene - who saw what was happening - for not yelling at your daughter to drop the knife? It sounds to me that Jolene was in a no-win situation with your husband, and it appears that she knew it. Although her display of temper was uncalled for, I, too, am getting a snicker out of imagining the scene.

George was completely out of line in so many ways. First, if he had an issue with Jolene yelling at Sassi he should have approached her privately - or better yet, had you tacitly approach her; he should not have reprimanded her, like he would a child, in front of everyone. Second, Jolene does not owe Sassi an apology. I do not know where George gets off thinking that a toddler deserves an apology being scared out of committing a life-threatening act. Third, he should not have "shushed" you in front of your family when you tried to mediate the brewing confrontation between him and Jolene. He treated you as one would a child, and if anyone is owed an apology it is you. Fourth, he has no right to demand that your mother get the house "professionally childproofed". Although, as grandparents, your parents should take steps towards child-proofing the house; your mother's reaction tells me that there is more to this argument than your letter reveals.

You do not say why Jolene and George do not get along; but you do make mention that Jolene is "a feminist", which has me connecting the dots and seeing a better picture. The fact that your entire family, and not just Jolene, is not fond of your husband is something you should take into consideration as you try to mediate the situation. I suggest that you speak with your family privately - without George - and ask them for their frank opinion of him, and why they feel as they do about him. Once all the cards are on the table, you can go about mediating the situation; illustrating to your family the ways in which George is "sweet, and kind, and caring, too". Hopefully, you will be able to work from there. Both sides - your family and George - will have to be open to compromise, and to discussing the issues as mature adults, in order to repair these damaged family ties. Otherwise, the only one having to decide which side to take will be you.


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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Algebra Tests Are Not The Only Cause Of Stomach Pains

Dear Tazi:

Yesterday, I was sick with a nasty stomach flu, but my Mom didn't believe me when I said I was sick. She thought I just wanted to get out of taking an Algebra test that I didn't study for, and that my anxiety was what was giving me a stomach ache. She sent me to school, even though I begged her to let me stay home.

My Algebra test was during first period, and once the test is started, the teacher does not allow you to leave the room for anything. It was midway through the test that I felt my stomach clench, and I knew I would have to get to a bathroom FAST! I begged the teacher for a hall pass, but he would not give one so I ran out of the classroom without one. On the way to the lav, the Hall Monitor saw me running and demanded my hall pass - which of course I did not have. To make a long, disgusting story short and sweet, I ended up being sent to the Nurse's office to wait for a ride home so I could go change my clothes.

Tazi, I go to a small school and I am pretty sure that everyone will have heard about what happened to me. The smell coming from the Nurse's office was pretty bad, and the student volunteers in the Main Office knew something was happening. All of my classmates saw me run out of the Algebra test and not return. Do you think people will put two and two together and figure out what - and who - was the cause of the smell? My Mom says no, but I am not so sure that I want to trust her opinion - after all, it was her opinion that got me into this mess (no pun intended).


Dear Em-BARE-ASS-ed:

Judging from your signature, you are able to laugh at the situation - just not as it applies to you. Considering the time-sensitive nature of your letter, I am printing it the same week that I received it; so you should see it before you have to return to school.

Please do not blame your Mom for her judgement error. If every Mom believed her teenage child when they complained of stomach pains, Algebra tests everywhere would go un-taken. Obviously, you were telling the truth when you complained of stomach pains; it's just that your timing was bad.

Eventually, you will have to go back to school! You cannot simply drop out because you are afraid of being embarrassed. If it is any comfort to you, know that the teachers and the school Nurse are all bound by confidentiality rules - meaning those who witnessed your embarrassing moment cannot talk about it. Since no student actually saw you covered in your own waste, they cannot know for certain that you were the cause of the smell. If by the time you get back to school the incident has not been forgotten, I would suggest you not involve yourself in it. Tell people the truth - you went home sick that day and missed the aftermath of the commotion. If your classmates insist on pinning the commotion on you, simply say that you "got sick" (a euphemism for vomiting) on your clothes and went home to change and rest. Your personal medical status is not their concern.


P.S. As a cat, I am partial to Puss in Boots brand "No Pants" Pants. I don't think this would work for humans, though.

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Un-traditional Ring Makes Men Think She is Single

Dear Tazi:

I am a married woman with an un-traditional wedding band.  My ring is not a simple gold band, but a blue sapphire encrusted gold circlet.  The ring has been in my husband’s family for several generations, and came over to this country with his great-great-great grandfather who brought it with him from Europe to give to his arranged bride.  It was a marriage that produced 11 children, and has been passed down through the years to the eldest son or grandson (if there were no sons that generation).  My ring has an incredible amount of sentimental value to my husband and me, and I would not trade it for the Hope diamond itself! 

My problem is that, because it is not a traditional ring, single men do not realize that I am married and often ask me for my phone number.  I work as a bartender, so this problem crops up a lot.  My usual response is something along the lines of “My husband doesn’t allow me to date anyone but him!” at which point the male inquirer gets upset and asks me why I don’t wear a wedding ring.  When I hold up my hand to show my ring, I am accused of “not wearing a real wedding ring” and “trying to boost tips” by pretending to be single.  Tazi, this is not my intent! 

Last week, a regular customer (who is quite wealthy and spends a lot of money in the restaurant, as well as at the bar) complained to my manager that I am leading men on by not making it clear that I am married and that he finds this behavior offensive.  My manager mentioned this complaint to me and told me to “try and let on” that I am not available.  Short of wearing a sign around my neck, how exactly should I do this?

Barmaid Brittany

Dear Barmaid Brittany:

I think your should wear a small sign around your neck, like this one:

This absurd gesture should let your boss see just how absurd his/her request was, and should show your regular customer that you do not appreciate being accused of hiding your marital status.  Once the point is made you can take off the sign; your point will have been made and your sense of humor will be showing, and nobody can say that you are hiding your marital status.  This will also offer you an opening to explain the significance of your ring, should you desire.

Working at a bar – even one that is inside a nice restaurant – you are going to interact with more than your fair share of problem people.  Try to remember that alcohol intensifies a person’s personality and behavior; also, it is not called “liquid courage” for nothing!  If a patron finds you attractive, it may take more than a few drinks for him to work up the courage to ask for your phone number.  Rejection will have a double sting since he has spent a nice chunk of money working up his nerve.  Your usual response is kind and witty; I see no problem with it.  I think your regular customer needs to lighten up a bit!  

Your wedding ring sounds not only beautiful in looks, but also in sentiment.  I wish you and your husband many happy years together!


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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Was the Phone Call Really An Emergency? Or Just A Way Out Of A Bad Date?

Dear Tazi:

I need an honest opinion. What does it mean when you are single, go on a date, and the woman you are with gets an "emergency" phone call that requires her to end the evening early? This has happened to me twice in the past month, both times with ladies I was interested in getting to know better (thus far, it has not happened with women that I was not interested in seeing again). Both times I tried calling the next day to follow up and make sure that everything was okay; and both times the ladies in question were polite and apologetic for having to leave early, but neither time did they suggest making things up to me by meeting me for another date.

I am told that I am an extremely attractive man and that I have a good personality. I am financially stable, I own my own home, and am current on the mortgage. My children are grown and independent and my ex-wife and I are still on good terms; yet I am starting to question if there is something wrong with me! Could I be doing something to put-off women to whom I am attracted and would like to pursue a relationship? Or do you think that these two "emergencies" really were emergencies, and the ladies were just too embarrassed to ask to see me again?


Dear CasaNOVA:

I like your cutesy play on words, where you capitalize the "NOVA" in your signature! Are you this charming in person, too? [Ed. Note: The phrase "no va" is Spanish for "it doesn't go"]. However, I have to add that what I find charming, some humans may find cloying and annoying. If you overdose a woman on charm, she may start looking for the nearest exit.

I am intrigued by the fact that these "emergency phone calls" only came in when you were on dates with women who interested you; and not with those you did not wish to see again. Could it be that, in your zeal to let them know that you were interested, you were being a tad too aggressive in courting these women? A good date can turn bad quickly when one person starts planning a future that the other party is not yet ready to envision.

When they go on a date, most women have some sort of exit strategy in case the evening does not turn out as planned. Some women are direct; others are more subtle, employing the "emergency phone call" trick, wherein a friend calls their mobile phone to check-in. If the date is going well, the call is ignored; if the date is not going well, a "sudden emergency" can be claimed and the date ended. Never have I heard of a man calling the next day to follow-up and see if everything is okay. Again, this could be seen as charming and polite or it could be seen as overly-aggressive and creepy.

I suggest that you take the time to analyse your own behavior, asking yourself the hard questions to get to the truth of the matter: Are you coming off as a blow-hard? Are you being overly aggressive in your attempts to charm the ladies? Are you pushing to move things along faster (physically or emotionally) than your date would like? You do not say how many recent dates you have had in total - with ladies that interested you as well as with those that did not - so I am unable to see the entire picture. Being cold and flu season, it really could be that the babysitter called because Junior got sick all over the rug.

You give an attractive description of yourself, so on paper you sound like the type of man every woman dreams of finding - but sometimes, dreams do not live up to reality. Since you are on good terms with your ex-wife, maybe you could ask her opinion of what might be happening to prematurely terminate your promising dates.


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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Leaving The Past Where It Belongs Can Be Difficult When Meeting Someone New

Dear Tazi:

Many years ago, when I was still young, I made some stupid mistakes and fell in with the wrong crowd.  I used and sold drugs, and ended up in jail because of it.  I have done my time and have completed my probation, and have rebuilt my life following a straight and narrow path.  I go to church, donate money to charity, and live a quiet, middle-class life.  I would like to meet a woman to share my life with, but it seems that they are all scared away by my past.

I now believe in always being honest, so my past is something I mention early on when I start seeing someone new – I do not want to be accused of keeping it secret, should a relationship develop, and I want any relationship that develops to be based upon honesty and trust.  My friends all tell me that my past is in my past and that is where I should keep it; that my honesty is scaring women away, but like I said, I can’t see myself building a relationship on a dishonest foundation.  Tazi, do you think there is a woman out there who can accept me for who I am now, while forgiving me for who I once was?

New Leaf

Dear New Leaf:

While I congratulate you on turning your life around and becoming a productive, law-abiding member of society, I’d like to remind you that there is a difference between honesty and complete transparency.  How much of your past are you mentioning and how soon are you mentioning it?  As charming and successful as you may be now, I highly doubt that a woman wants to hear about your criminal record on a first date!  The chances of this revelation leading to a second date are, as you have probably found, slim to none.

I suggest that upon meeting a new romantic interest you take the time to get to know each other for you who are now and who you seek to become in the future.  This groundwork can take several dates to form, and will give each of you the chance to decide if you want something more from each other.  Who knows?  You may decide that the woman who interested you a few weeks ago is not your type; why would you want to reveal such personal information about your past to someone who will not be a part of your future?

Once you feel that a lasting connection is forming – either romantic or platonic – the subject of both of your pasts can be brought up in conversation.  Talk to each other about your childhoods; the morals with which you were raised; and ease into the less comfortable subjects, explaining that your past is what encouraged you to become the person you are today, and the past is where your poor behavior will remain. 

The great thing about pasts is that everyone has one, and they all contain information we would rather keep to ourselves.  The great thing about finding the right person is that they love you for who you are – past and all – and still want to be with you not in spite of your past, but because it has helped to make you the person you are today.  I wish you much luck in your search for Miss Right!  Please let me know when you have found her!


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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shopaholic Or Not, Wasteful Spending Cuts Into Savings

Dear Tazi:

I have a problem.  When I get bored, I shop.  I am not a shopaholic - I don't feel the need to shop or get any kind of high off of it or feel let-down after I am finished shopping; I just have nothing better to do with my time so I go online and browse for things - gifts for upcoming birthdays, new clothes, bed and bath goodies, and stuff on clearance sale that looks like something I may eventually use.

I am not in debt over my head from my shopping habits, but I would like to pump up my savings account a bit, which I could do if I did not shop so much.  I was reading about one young entrepreneurial woman in Marie Claire magazine who started her business on a whim while unemployed.  She was able to do this because she took $20,000 from her savings for start-up costs.  What twentysomething has $20K in their savings account?  I suppose I could have half that much if I didn't spend so much.

My boyfriend doesn't have a problem with my spending; he tells me that if it makes me happy why stop?  The problem is, I am not sure that it makes me happy; not when I see the alternative things I can be doing with my money, like saving it to start my own business someday, although I am not certain what I would sell. My boyfriend tells me I am over thinking this, but I am not so sure.  What do you think, Tazi?  And do you have any tips to help me curb my spending habits?

Bored Far Too Often

Dear Bored Far Too Often:

Can you control your spending when you shop?  It sounds to me as if you are a controlled shopaholic - someone who can control their shopping and spending so long as they are not tempted, but go crazy once the opportunity to shop presents itself.  How long can you continue shopping for needless things before your habit puts you into debt over your head?  Just because you can handle your debt now does not mean that you will always be able to make the payments on your credit cards.  One bout with a serious illness or stretch of unemployment can put you under financially, so a solid savings account is a good thing to have!

Since a solid savings account appears to be your goal, I can offer you some tips on how to get there; and since you humans love the organization of a list, I will present them to you in list form.  Consider it a post-Halloween treat!

1.  Know the difference between wasteful spending and investment spending.  Purchasing a pair of high-end, quality career shoes on end-of-season clearance is an investment; purchasing a pair of high-end, quality party shoes on clearance is not.  Before purchasing something, ask yourself: How often will I use this?  If I put it into storage for the season, will I remember that I have it?

2.  Invest in a book by financial guru Suze Orman - and read it!  The information she has to share is invaluable!  If you are not comfortable buying a book, see if your local library has it and give it a test drive.  I strongly recommend The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke (Riverhead Trade, 2007).

3. Put your credit cards into a lock-box or safe.  This will help you to resist the urge to use them by making them more difficult to access.  Carry one credit card - for emergencies - in your wallet.  Better yet, join AAA; your membership card can double as a pre-paid American Express card.

4. Unless you are absolutely certain that you will be giving someone a gift several months down the road, do not purchase something that will be "perfect" for them.  Furthermore, ask yourself: might an even better gift come along between now and then?

5. When you get the urge to spend wastefully, look at the price and put that same amount towards your credit card debt.  By doing this you are saving money and paying off your past purchases.  A bargain is not a bargain if you are paying monthly interest on it.

6. Create a budget based upon your pay cycle and stick to it.  If you are paid weekly, your budget should reflect that; bi-weekly, your budget should take you through two weeks.  By doing this you should not be caught short and should not have to dip into your savings to pay your regular bills.

7. Create an Excel spreadsheet and record every penny you spend for one full month.  Categorize each item - food, entertainment, credit cards, rent, etc. - and see how much you are spending in each area.  This will allow you  to profile your spending and cut back on things you do not need.  For example, do you really need a Starbucks coffee every morning?  At $2.50/cup adds up to $17.50 for one week!  You could buy and brew your coffee at home for a fraction of that price!

8. Pay yourself first.  My Mommie's Grandpa always used to tell her that she would never have a savings account if she did not pay herself first.  She wishes she took his advice to put 10% of every paycheck into savings and forget about it!  She does that now, and I suggest that you start!

9.  Buy store-brand food; it costs less and is usually manufactured by the brand name company.  Put the money you save into your savings account.

10. Sign up for and use store loyalty cards, cut (and use) coupons.  There are many online sites that offer coupons for free, so you don't even have to buy a newspaper to get them!

These small steps can add up to big savings, which you can put towards your dream of starting your own business, owning your own home, or taking a dream vacation.  Please write back in six months and let me know how you are doing!


P.S.  Shame on your boyfriend for not being more supportive!  Could it be that his habits reflect yours, and any change would create the need for him to examine his own financial habits?

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Younger Brother Wants Older Brother To Man Up, Mom Is An Enabler

Dear Tazi:

A little background before I tell you my problem: I was 18 when my father committed suicide.  Because he took his own life, his life insurance did not pay out and Mom would have been left destitute if I did not man up and help her.  I took my college savings - money I earned by working summers with my father since I was 10 - and used it as a down payment to buy 50% of Mom's house.  I went to the community college while working full-time to pay the mortgage. It took me several years to do it, but I have graduated a four year school and have paid off the mortgage.  I am now officially 50% owner of our house.

My problem is my older brother, "Larry".  He was 20 when Dad died and [upset] that he could no longer attend the pricey, private college that was bankrupting my parents.  He took out a bunch of student loans, partied for a few more years until his financial aid ran out, and has barely kept his head above water since.  Larry has a small apartment on the ghetto side of town, so when he entertains he prefers to bring his guests to my house.

My mother is always happy to see Larry, and since he hardly ever visits her she will take him any way she can get him, going so far as to allow him to spend the night with his female guests.  (Sorry, Tazi, I cannot call them "lady friends" as they are not ladies!).  I realize my mother has the same right to guests as I do, but a recent event has me putting my foot down.

Larry decided he wanted to throw an NFL Weekend party.  Since his apartment is small, he asked Mom if he could use our basement.  She of course said yes; I knew nothing about it until the day of the party - which lasted two and a half days!  Larry's party started on Sunday morning with the pre-game shows and went straight through Monday Night Football.  The party finally ended at 1 AM Tuesday when I kicked everyone out of the house.  Larry was upset, Mom was relieved - but still insists that Larry should be able to have parties at our house, just not on as grand a scale.

What is upsetting me the most, Tazi, is that Larry left the house an absolute pit!  What's more, he asked Mom and me if we could clean up the mess for him, since he was exhausted from entertaining his guests for two days!  Before you ask, Tazi, I would have thrown him out on his ear a lot sooner if Mom hadn't argued to let him stay, that he hasn't spent this much time "at home" since he was a kid.

Tazi, how can I get my Mom to see that Larry is using her?  I would like to exercise my rights as a homeowner, as well, but every time I try Mom gets all emotional.  I have already offered to buy her out of the house, but she refuses.  I think she knows my first rule will be no more overnights with Larry.  So, Tazi...what do you think?  Is your hair standing on end?

Man of the House

Dear Man of the House:

My whiskers are standing on end, too!

To give your cat a full, fluffy coat, try scaring the $%#^ out of it!
I applaud your courage and your willingness to take the risks you did when you were younger, putting your own future on hold to see that your mother could have a secure one.  Just when it seems like men like you no longer exist, a letter like yours shows up in my mailbox!  (Whew!  That was more "likes" than a teenage girl can use in one sentence!).  You have learned many hard lessons in life, and it is time for you to learn one more: you cannot control how other people act, only how you react to their behavior.

It is obvious that you are the more mature of your mother's two sons; it is also obvious that your brother is holding her as an emotional hostage, ignoring her until he needs a place to party and entertain.  It is sad, really, and what is sadder is that your mother appears to realize what he is doing but feels trapped by his behavior.  On the other hand, it appears that your mother fears similar abuse from you should she sell you her half of the house.  You have made your dislike of Larry's visits well known; does your mother fear he will be unwelcome in the house if you were to own it outright?

You and your mother need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with each other.  You have taken on much responsibility from a young age (including starting work and a college savings account at the age of 10) so it is time to sit back and see where all this responsibility has gotten you in life - and to see who you have become because of it.  Are you rigid and unbending when it comes to how you run your house?  Does your mother feel like you are trying to run her life, too, or does she feel independent of you?  Do you feel like your mother still acts like the house is 100% hers so her rules are the only ones that matter?  A family counselor or clergy member would make a helpful mediator, and I hope you will consider contacting one.

Your brother Larry is obviously a manipulative person, but he is still your brother and your mother's son.  I do not suggest you push him out of your lives, but limit the length of his visits to daylight hours - unless he is alone, then you can decide if you would like to extend the invitation to stay overnight.  If he in turn refuses to visit, is it possible for you and your mother to go visit him?  Roads run both ways; it could be that Larry feels left out of the relationship that you and your Mom have with each other.  Make an effort to reach out to him and see if your mother becomes less of an emotional hostage to him.

One last thought: Larry's two-and-a-half day NFL basement bash should have never happened the way it did.  The next time he seeks to throw a party at your house, draw up a written contract that details how many people will be there, how long the party will last, the condition the basement is to be left in prior to Larry's leaving at the end of the party, and any other conditions you wish to enforce.  You, your Mom, and Larry must all sign it.  Should the rules of this contract be broken, you will have every right to demand that Larry's guests leave your house - by police escort, if necessary.

I wish you luck!


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

Monday, November 17, 2014

King Of The Castle Needs To Learn To Appreciate His Queen

Dear Tazi:

I read your letter about housework and unmade beds on Twitter and I knew that I had to write to you!

I am a stay-at-home-mom of three wonderful, active teen and pre-teen boys. This description alone should tell you what my house looks like most days, which is why I work very hard to keep up with all of the housework! I sweep and mop the tile floors daily, and vacuum every other day. The bathroom gets disinfected every day and gets a thorough scrubbing twice a week. I do at least one load of laundry a day, and iron for at least half an hour each day just to keep up with everything. This is on top of meal planning/cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying, and taxiing my sons to their various sports practices and games. Yes, my life is hectic but I would not trade it for anything. The one change I would make is in my husband's attitude.

"Frank" works in construction, and comes home every day dirty from head to toe. He works hard, so it is expected that he will sweat; which in turn makes the dirt, dust, and other debris of his job stick to his skin and clothing. The soles of his work-boots are equally filthy. When he comes home, he refuses to take off his dirty clothes and shoes in the mudroom (and putting on one of the bathrobes provided) before entering the house, claiming that it is his "hard work that pays for this house" and that he "should be allowed to enter it as a King enters his castle". He usually goes on to say that he doesn't know what I do all day that I can't find the time to clean up "a little dirt" that might get tracked in when he enters.

Tazi, he tracks in more than just "a little dirt". After he arrives home, there is a trail of it from the mudroom to the bedroom and then on to the bathroom where he showers. The house - that I spent a good part of the day keeping clean - looks like the Peanuts character PigPen just walked through it! All three of my sons know to take off their dirty shoes before walking in the house; and if their uniforms are muddy they take those off, too, and don a robe before entering. I did not have to do anything special to train them; they just realize that it is an exercise in common sense - and common courtesy - to take these few extra steps to respect all of my hard work. Do you have any ideas on how to get my husband to start towing this line?

Not A Scullery Maid

Dear Not A Scullery Maid:

Tell your husband that if he wishes to be treated like the "King" of the castle than he must learn to start respecting you as its Queen! Rather than lock him out of the house until he learns to follow the simple rule of leaving the dirt in the mudroom (which you could try, if all else fails), there is one thing that you could do: take a one week vacation from housework.

As difficult as this may be for you to do, a one week vacation from the cleaning, the laundry, the ironing, etc. will show your husband just what you do all day that he can't seem to notice. Tell your husband that while this is happening, you will be treating your self to the things you enjoy, but never have the time to do - like read a book, take a spa day, lunch with friends, visit your mother, or just take a nap in the middle of the day. Since you cannot completely abandon your family (your boys still need you), keep active with them by teaching them how to do a few simple chores, such as laundry and ironing and simple meal planning (trust me, their future wives will thank you!).

After a few days of this, your husband should start to notice that the cleanliness of the house (and his clothes) is deteriorating rather quickly. If he comments on this, remind him that you are on vacation but that you appreciate the fact that he is finally noticing what you do all day! If you would like, you can offer to end your vacation early if he promises to start using the mudroom for its designed purpose. Hopefully, this experiment will lead to a meaningful conversation between the two of you about appreciating the work that each of you do to keep your loving home running smoothly.


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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

It Is Not Dinner Host's Place To Teach Children Manners

Dear Tazi:

My brother and his wife have three beautiful children, all who lack basic manners.  I realize it is not their fault that they do not comport themselves like civilized human beings, but my sister-in-law’s fault for not teaching them basic manners.  With Thanksgiving coming up, I am concerned about how the children will behave during our family’s formal dinner.  

I realize it is in poor taste to discipline another woman’s children, but I do not think I will be able to sit idly by and watch my nephew and nieces act like animals during what is supposed to be a classy celebration.  Furthermore, I do not wish for my children to think that such primal behavior can go without reprimand. 

Since I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year, I believe it would be appropriate for me to correct the unacceptable manners of my nephew and niece, should they display them.  My husband, however, has told me that a gracious host does not publicly humiliate their guests.  My intent will not be to publicly humiliate these children, but rather to save them from public humiliations down the road by teaching them proper manners now.  I believe that guests should follow the standard set by their host, and that I would simply be educating these children to behave as expected.  What do you say, Tazi?  Who is right, my husband or me?

Gracious Host

Dear Gracious Host:

I have one question for you, regarding something that is bothering me: does your brother have a role in raising his children?  Or does his wife do 100% of the child rearing?  I ask because you assign all blame to your sister-in-law for your nephew and nieces’ lack of decorum.  I believe you when you say that your intent is not to publicly humiliate the children, because I am getting the impression that your intent is to publicly humiliate your sister-in-law.  

I am going to have to side with your husband on this issue – to an extent.  He is correct that a gracious host does not publicly humiliate their guests; however, a gracious host also does all that they can to ensure the comfort of all of their guests.  If your nephew and nieces are as vagabond as you claim their lack of manners will certainly affect the comfort of your other guests.  Since Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, I suggest that you contact your brother and discuss the issue of table manners with him – not your sister-in-law.  Explain to him that Thanksgiving will be a formal affair, and that you want to give him a head’s up so he and his wife can explain to the children what is expected of them, as well as how to handle the formalities of which fork to use.  Tell him that you will be having the same conversation with your own children (and then have that conversation) so he does not feel that his children are being singled out among many.  

You do not say how old your nephew and nieces are, but if they are old enough to sit with the adults than they are old enough to learn proper and formal table manners.  If your brother feels that formal table manners are a little too much for his children to handle, with consideration to their age, you should act the part of the gracious host and provide a children’s table – at which your own children should sit, as well.  If their manners are as good as you imply your nephew and niece will pick up their cues from your children.


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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tazi Talks About The Neutered Life

Dear Tazi:

My husband and I are having a disagreement, and since it involves our cat we thought we should ask you to offer a solution.  “Roger” and I have adopted the most adorable tabby cat I have ever seen.  I love him so much, and am so afraid of anything bad happening to him.  I do not want to let him outside, but I know that he will eventually want to explore what you call the wide world beyond the fence.  In order to keep “Tigger” from wandering I would like to have him neutered.  I think this step would be in his best interest, but Roger is adamantly opposed to the idea.  He claims that neutering is not necessary and is demeaning to the animal.

Tazi, you have mentioned in the past that you are neutered.  Do you or your Mommie regret having this operation done?  Can you educate my husband on the importance of neutering pets?

Tigger’s Mommy

Dear Tigger’s Mommy:

I had no say in my operation; I was a rescue cat and by law I needed to be neutered.  I was “fixed” before I reached sexual maturity, so I really do not miss my testicles one bit.  I do wish that Mommie had sprung for the extra cost of laser surgery/vasectomy as opposed to full castration, but that is only because people now think I am a girl.  I think this might be what Roger means when he says neutering is demeaning to the animal.  Because I have been “altered” I cannot be entered into cat shows, either.  I, however, have this column as a way to share my beauty with the world! 

In a more serious vein, neutering (or spaying) your pet is one of the best things you can do for them!  Not only do you eliminate the potential for reproductive cancers; you eliminate the potential that your pet will reproduce, adding to them stray animal problem in your community.  The tortures of being a stray animal are far worse than the temporary discomfort of sterilization surgery. 

Me in Atlantic City, just chillin' with my feral peeps!
Other potential benefits from neutering your male cat should be attractive to both you and your husband.  Neutered cats do not wander nearly as much or as often as un-neutered cats – we have no reason to chase after the ladies – nor do we spray as much, since we do not feel the need to act as competitive as an un-neutered cat.  Neutered cats are also much less aggressive than un-neutered cats, around both humans as well as other cats.  A neutered Tigger will be much less likely to challenge Roger for the role of dominant male of the house!

Write-In "Tazi for President" in 2012!
In short, unless you are planning on breeding Tigger, I see no reason why he should not be neutered.  The lady cats love neutered males!


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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teenage Vegetarian Seeks Parental Acceptance For Her Choice

Dear Tazi:

I am seventeen and for many reasons I have decided to become a vegetarian. I am not certain if I want to go completely vegan, but I do not wish to see animals die for my meals any longer. When I told my mother this she responded that as long as I eat at her table I will eat what she serves and not argue about it. I figured I could get around this by simply not eating dinner when she serves meat, but she grounded me for wasting food! How am I the one wasting food when I tell her not to prepare a meat-based serving for me?

My father has been a bit more supportive, suggesting that I am going through a "teenage phase" and asking my Mom to "play along" until I "grow out of it". Tazi, this is not a phase! I will be off to college in another year and a half and I will be able to eat however I want, and a vegetarian diet is what I want. In fact, I am only looking at schools that offer vegetarian meal plans.

My decision to go vegetarian has caused a lot of stress around my dinner table. This was not my intent and would like to try and diffuse it, but it looks like the only way to do that is to give up my new lifestyle as a vegetarian and that is not an option. Can you think of any ways to get my mother to lay off on the meat? She serves it at almost every meal!

Vegging In, Not Out

Dear Vegging In, Not Out:

For years now, medical science has touted the benefits of a well-balanced vegetarian diet. The key here is the term "well-balanced", which means your diet should include a combination of starchy and non-starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes (nuts, beans, and other protein rich plant-based foods. So often, people who decide to "go veg" do not do their homework and end up eating a poorly balanced diet that is deficient in many of the amino acids needed to build proteins - which are the building blocks of the enzymes your body needs to function!

I suggest that you ask your mother why she is so offended by your choice to eliminate animal flesh from your diet. If she is concerned that you will end up malnourished a trip to the doctor for a full check-up and a visit with a dietitian, who can show you all that you need to eat in order to achieve a balanced diet, will go far in assuaging her fears.

I only wish it was this easy!

If your mother is afraid that your new diet will be an additional burden on her, requiring her to make separate menus for every meal you need to make sure that this does not happen. It is very simple to ask your Mom to set aside a portion of a recipe before adding any meat to it; it is quite another to demand an entire meal be prepared separately for your needs, since there is no medical reason for your specialized diet. For example, if your mother is making spaghetti and meat sauce, ask her to set aside some of the sauce before adding the meat/meat juices; if she is making steak and potatoes, do not tell her that she needs to prepare a Tofurky for you. Rather, politely request that she not prepare a helping of steak for you and sit with your family and eat the parts of the meal that coincide with your dietary preferences.

If your mother's concern is that your vegetarian needs will be a burden on the family's grocery budget, offer to pay for the additional cost of your specialized foods. If your mother normally buys you beef hot dogs for $3.69 a package and tofu pups cost $3.99, offer to pay the difference in cost. Although 30-cents is not much, over the cost of an entire shopping trip the money really does add up fast!

Lastly, if your mother is afraid that you just don't like her cooking, reassure her that this is not the case; that the decision you have made to eschew meat is a deeply personal one. Try sharing your reasoning with her to help her understand that your decision is about you, not her, or anyone else for that matter. You may not be able to convince either of your parents that you are not going through a "teenage phase", but you may be able to convince them to be more accepting of your choice once they see you handling it in a mature and responsible manner.


P.S. Another idea is to buy a vegetarian cookbook and offer to cook dinner for your family or ask your Mom to help you prepare some vegetarian recipes! Quality time is what the family dinner hour is all about!

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Overwhelmed By Overdrafts, Young Husband Seeks Help

Dear Tazi:

I never thought I would be writing to an advice columnist, so I figure if I am I might as well write to a cat, right? I am a nineteen year old man, married six months, and my wife is driving me up a tree with her horrible banking habits.

"Liesel" has a bad habit of charging stuff to the debit card attached to our joint checking account and then not balancing the checkbook. After having to pay several hundred dollars in overdraft fees one month, I decided I should be the one to balance the checkbook. Now Liesel forgets to give me the receipts for the stuff she charges so the checkbook balance is just as messed up as ever. I have thought of applying for a low-limit credit card for her to use, but I hate the idea of having to pay interest on stupid stuff like a cup of coffee or a package of gum. This is the sort of stuff Liesel charges. I have tried giving her cash to pay with, but that just makes her spend even more.

I went to the bank to close our joint account, because I am afraid all of these overdrafts are ruining my credit, but I could not close the account without Liesel's agreeing; and I couldn't take my name off of the account without closing it. Liesel refuses to agree to this kind of solution because she believes that married couples should have joint bank accounts. I love my wife, but her spending habits have got to change! We are hoping to buy a house in a few years, and the money we are spending on overdrafts is sinking that dream. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do to get my wife to see reason?


Dear Underwater:

I am sure that the first thing you would like to do is take away Liesel's debit card! However, I do not advocate the subordination of one partner by another and this case is no exception. You are her husband, not her Daddy. Because debit card transactions do not always go through right away, a person can continue to charge on the account and rack up huge overdraft fees, which is what appears to be happening. Since Liesel is forgetting to give you her receipts, you may have to go online and view your account through your bank's online banking features. A list of charges will be made available, and you can confirm with Liesel whether or not she made these charges. You will also be able to see your balance and warn Liesel when it is getting low or even transfer funds from savings to prevent an overdraft. It is a lot of work on your part, but this plan should stop the overdraft fees. Don't worry - your wife is not getting out of trouble here!

It sounds to me that Liesel needs credit counseling and some lessons on financial responsibility. I am assuming she is close to your age, which means she has little to no experience with credit and its importance. Is she even the least bit upset about all of the money being wasted on overdraft fees? Because the two of you wish to save for a house, both a healthy savings account and a healthy credit report will be required. I suggest that you both put the debit cards away; agree to a spending budget for the both of you; and stick to it - meaning once the cash in your pocket is gone, that's it until the next paycheck.

Once you are both comfortable sticking with a weekly spending budget, you can try carrying the debit cards with you for emergencies only. If you find Liesel is falling back into her old habits and the overdraft fees start rolling in again, professional counseling may be required as the problem may run deeper than being scatterbrained when it comes to remembering to balance a checkbook.

I wish you both the best of luck, in your marriage and in your goal of buying your own home.


P.S. With regard to married couples and checking accounts, I have to tell you I have heard of many couples keeping a joint bill paying account but separate personal accounts. Perhaps this is a compromise that would appeal to Liesel?

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tazi's Annual Veteran's Day Tribute

Dear Readers:

Today is Veteran's Day. Whether your political stripes are Republican red, Independent white, or Democrat blue, today is a day to remember those - living and dead - who put our country and Her interests above their own, and signed on to serve in the U.S. Military.

The jobs of our Soldiers, Airmen/Airwomen, Navymen/Navywomen and Marines are not like our own. They cannot call out sick because the weather is nice and they wish to take a personal day. If, after signing on, they decide they do not like the job, they cannot simply quit - they must honor the multi-year commitment they have made to serve. When they are told that they are being transferred or deployed, they cannot say "no". They go where their leaders send them, be it across the country and away from family and friends; or across the world and into imminent danger. How many of us show such loyalty to our employers? 

Whether an enlisted member or an officer, employment in the U.S. Military is more than just a job, more than just a career: it is a way of life. When they leave the "office" for the day - whether the office really is an office, or whether it is a ship or a training field or a battle site - the members of our U.S. Military do not stop representing, even if they are out of uniform; and even when they have long since retired from active duty. How many of us show such pride for our profession?

Our country's laws protect our civil rights, preventing our employers from forcing us to complete tasks that we find morally objectionable. The members of our U.S. Military give up many of these protections when they join the service. For the most part, they do not get to choose their job assignment; it is chosen for them based upon their abilities; and they do their job to the best of their abilities, even if they would prefer to be doing something else. How many of us are so accommodating of our employers?

If we, as civilians, disagree with a decision our company leaders make, we can openly argue. If a Military Journalist finds the U.S. position on foreign affairs objectionable s/he had better keep that opinion out of the articles, Editorials, and opinion pieces they write; and keep cheering for the decisions of their Commander in Chief, regardless of their true feelings. The rest of our U.S. Military must also tow the "company line", and keep dissenting opinions out of their blogs and away from the ears of their commanding officers. How many of us are so supportive of our Chief Executives? And how many of us could learn to keep our mouths shut so well?

Being a member of our U.S. Military involves sacrifice that civilians will never understand; but it also provides rewards that civilians will never experience. Being a member of the U.S. Military means you are part of a brother-and-sisterhood that goes beyond self-interest, beyond cultural background, beyond the color of your skin. It is to know that whoever you are, and wherever you are, there are those who are willing to put their life on the line to protect the importance of your mission. How many of us can say that about our co-workers?

Whatever your political stripes; whatever your beliefs on war and military spending; please take the time to say "Thank You" to a Veteran for the sacrifices they make to secure, protect, and preserve our American way of life. In the words of one Veteran - who I am certain speaks for more than self - a Veteran of the U.S. Military has "defended those who hate me, fought those who where afraid of me, aided those who didn't know me, and took shots for those who were with me".

How many of us can claim to be so selfless? 

Wishing you all a Happy Veterans' Day, and sending a great big THANK YOU to all of our country's Veterans!


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, November 10, 2014

Woman With Signs Of Bulimia Wonders If She Is Doing Something Wrong

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I think I might have an eating disorder, but I am not sure because some of my behaviors seem quite normal. I love food – a lot – but I don’t like gaining weight. I enjoy sitting down to a big meal with family or friends and not worrying about how much fat or calories I am ingesting; but I hate gaining weight.

When I was younger, I could always eat what I wanted, and as much of it, without gaining weight; but since I turned 30 I have discovered I must exercise harder to remain at my goal weight. I have also discovered that there are certain foods I can no longer eat because they cause me severe stomach upset – to the point of vomiting or diarrhea.

Lately, if I don’t feel like exercising after a particularly large meal, I have been sure to include a portion of one of these foods that “doesn’t agree with me”, as my Grandma used to call them, to ensure that my meal will exit my system with minimal caloric absorption. I don’t do this all of the time – most of the time, I will just run the treadmill for an extra hour or two, until the excess calories have been burned. I don’t think this is a problem, but at the same time I find myself hiding my behavior from my husband and children, like it is something that I should be ashamed of doing. What do you think, Tazi-Kat? Do I have an eating disorder? Or is my behavior perfectly normal?

Not Overweight…Yet

Dear Not Overweight…Yet:

The behavior you describe is the classic behavior of someone who suffers from bulimia nervosa – bulimia for short. Bulimics are generally people of normal weight who have difficulty maintaining their weight. Most of the time, they eat sensible portions of food; but every now and then they will go on a binge. Some binges can last only a few minutes, when food is stuffed into their mouths as fast as possible; other binges last over days or even weeks, when the bulimic throws nutrition and sensible eating to the wind and eats whatever they want, whenever they want, and however much they want; and then there is the type of binge that occurs over one meal. Regardless of the type of binge, the end result is the same: the binger “feels fat” and seeks a way to purge as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

There are three types of purges, and although many bulimics prefer one over the others they are not mutually exclusive. In your letter, you have described to me all three types of purges:

• The vomiting purge, which is the purge most commonly identified with bulimia
• The laxative purge, in which laxatives and diuretics or foods with a laxative/diuretic effect are ingested as a way to quickly evacuate food from the body
• The exercise purge, in which excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercises are done as an attempt to burn the extra calories.

These practices may seem like a good way to eliminate excess calories, but they really are not. Vomiting and laxative use will purge less than 50% of caloric intake; diuretics only 10%; and prolonged exercise results in diminished results as your body attempts to conserve its energy (until you feed it again!).

You do not say for how long you have been practicing these purge methods, or how frequently you employ them. However, the fact that you actively seek to hide these behaviors from those closest to you reveals that you do understand that they are not normal, and certainly not healthy. It appears that if you are not already a full-fledged bulimic that you are on the road to becoming one.

Bulimia may seem like an easy and painless way to maintain your weight, but there are several severe health conditions associated with repeated, long-term purging, including:

• Halitosis
• Erosion of tooth enamel and gum disease
• Throat cancer
• Heart conditions
• Kidney disease
• Stomach ulcers
• Dehydration
• Weight gain due to chronic metabolic disruptions

Not to mention your face ends up resembling Uncle Fester of the Addams Family, due to the combination of dehydration and cardiovascular issues.

I suggest that you speak with your doctor or other professional health counselor about seeking help for the dangerous habits you are developing, as well as seek the advice of a certified nutritionist who will be able to assist you in meal planning. Some sessions with a mental health counselor may also be helpful in getting to the root of your love of food, and why you enjoy eating to the point of gluttony. Only by getting to the root of the problem can the weed that is bulimia be destroyed.


P.S. I realize that as a cat, I am an expert on the subject of vomiting, but that is not bulimia. That is a furball problem.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Splitting A Lunch Tab Does Not Require Splitting Hairs

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a great group of friends with whom I enjoy lunching once or twice a month. There are six of us total, and five of us generally order a moderately priced meal. Rather than nit-pick over who owes how much at the end of the meal, our preference is to simply split the bill six ways (including the tax and tip). Our problem is that we recently discovered a new lunching spot that all six of us of us more than the rest.

"Sally" has developed a taste for the more expensive items on the menu at this new restaurant. The rest of us would not have a problem with her choice if it simply cost a few dollars more than what the rest of us order; but her new regular entree choices are lobster-based, and the price reflects this fact. Her meals have been running up the tab that the rest of us are stuck splitting.

We - I and the other four women of the group - would like to mention something to Sally about this issue. We are torn between suggesting she pay for her own lunch while the rest of us split the remainder of the bill; and suggesting that she order a less expensive entree. We do not wish to make her feel excluded, but we also do not wish to lessen her enjoyment of her lunch. Since we all enjoy this new restaurant, we do not wish to start going somewhere else. Do you have any advice for five cat-loving ladies, Tazi-Kat?

I'll Have the Tuna Salad Plate (She'll Have the Lobster Ravioli)

Dear I'll Have The Tuna Salad Plate...:

I checked out the online menus of several restaurants, and noticed that the cost of a tuna salad lunch plate is around $5 - $7, while the lobster ravioli runs $15 & up. The price difference essentially adds an additional $2.50 each to your respective tabs (including tax and tip) on top of your original share of the bill. This might not appear to be much, until you consider the fact that you are eating canned tuna and your friend is eating fresh lobster. By splitting the tab, you are subsidizing her tastes.

Perhaps if you - or another member of the group - spoke with Sally about this matter in private, explaining it as I have above, she may volunteer to pay her own tab. If she does not offer to rectify the situation, or takes offense at being singled-out, you may have to start "nit-picking" and each of you be responsible for your own tab. Since this is hardly ideal, I suggest rounding your contribution up or down to the nearest dollar amount.

For example, if your personal tab is $5.95 for a sandwich, $1.99 for a beverage, 63-cents for tax, and $1.60 for a tip; round off each amount and add it up this way: $6.00, $2.00, 75-cents, and $1.50 for a total of $10.25 - which makes your contribution eight-cents more than your "nit-picked" total - or simply $10.00 even. Considering your current arrangement, I doubt the others in your group will have a problem covering the extra 17-cents of your exact cost.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. I am glad to know that you are all cat lovers! Please think to bring home some of that tuna for your kitty once in a while!