Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Smell Of Cigarette Is The Smoking Gun that Shot-Down This Relationship

Dear Tazi:

When I met my girlfriend six months ago, I knew she was a smoker. I do not date smokers, and told her so when she asked for my phone number (we met at a party). She told me she was working on quitting, so I took a chance on her. After three months I thought she had quit and was very proud of her. I have been nothing but encouraging in her efforts to quit, and I thought she had successfully managed to quit. Admittedly, she never actually said that she had managed to quit, but it appeared that she had.

Last night, I stopped by "Angel's" house after work and smelled cigarette smoke. I was so disgusted that I walked right back out and went home. Angel called to ask what was my problem, so I told her: I felt like she had lied to me about quitting, since it was obvious to me that she had been smoking. Angel told me that she had a very difficult day at work and broke down and had a cigarette, as she sometimes still does when she is stressed. Obviously, if she immediately turns to cigarettes to help her cope with stress she hasn't truly quit.

I let Angel know how disappointed in her I am, and that I need some time to think about the future of our relationship. Angel feels that I am being unreasonable and controlling, and told me that if I cannot accept her weaknesses along with her strengths than I shouldn't bother thinking things through because our relationship is over. I feel like I should be the one making the decision whether or not to end things - after all, I was the one who was wronged by her behavior. I called her this morning to tell her this, but she hung up on me before I was even done speaking my piece.

Tazi, I feel like Angel owes me an apology - for her dishonesty about not completely quitting smoking and for her rudeness on the phone this morning. I know that she reads your column every day, which is why I am writing to you. I know that if she sees my letter she will see just how hurtful her behavior has been, and that she offer me the apology I feel I deserve. I am still not certain I want to give this relationship a second chance; but I think I deserve the option to at least consider it.


Dear Smoke Free:

It would appear that you are also girlfriend-free if you have not spoken to Angel by the time this letter is printed.

Your attitude strikes me as very demanding - not only of me, but of Angel as well. Quitting smoking can be extremely challenging for many people, so if Angel managed to quit, for the most part, in just a few months I give her a lot more credit than you are. In all fairness, Angel never said that she had successfully quit; just that she was "working on quitting" - it was you that assumed she had managed to kick her habit completely, and you who owe her an apology for being so judgmental.

Nobody is perfect, and you freely admit that Angel never said she had managed to completely quit smoking. Since you have not seen - or smelled - evidence that she has been smoking, I believe it is safe to assume that she has made great strides in her attempts to quit smoking, and that your faith was not misplaced. As for your belief that you should be the one making the decision about whether or not to end the relationship, I have to side with Angel on this matter: You are being controlling. No one party has the sole right to decide to continue or end a relationship with another person; the other person can make decisions, too. Sometimes the decision made is not to our liking, but something we must accept nonetheless.

I will stop short of agreeing that Angel owes you an apology for hanging up on you, in spite of the fact that I believe it was quite rude, because I feel that you are not telling me the whole story that led up to her prematurely ending the conversation. I will end by pointing out that Angel makes a second, very valid point. In order for a relationship to work, you must be willing to accept a person's weaknesses. As Marilyn Monroe put it, "If you can't handle me at my worst you sure don't deserve me at my best".

Snuggle (Just one!),

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adult Son Wants To Return To The Nest; Mother Is On The Fence

Dear Tazi:

I don't know what I am going to do with my adult son. "Harper" is 40-years-old and has never been able to hold a steady job. In fact, he was fired from his very first job at age 16, and has been unable to hold down steady employment ever since. From what I can tell, it is not that he is without skills; just without commitment to holding to a regular schedule. Harper enjoys his free time, and believes that a job should not encroach on his personal time. He has quit several jobs due to "differences with the management", as he puts it; "a refusal to follow direction", is how the management puts it. I know because a few of the jobs he has quit involved working for friends of my late husband.

My husband passed when our son was only ten years old, and he left Harper a large trust fund that was to be used for his college education or to be accessed on his 30th birthday, should Harper follow a career path that did not require college, figuring twelve years after high school graduation would be enough time for Harper to establish himself financially and the trust monies handled appropriately. My husband was a wise man and a hard worker but, sadly, our son did not inherit his father's work ethic or business sense. Harper has squandered all but the last few thousand dollars of his trust, and has asked to move into my guest cottage while he sorts out his issues. I agreed to Harper's request, but this was before I discovered some new information that has me wanting to turn back on our agreement.

In advance of moving in to my guest cottage, Harper has started having his mail delivered there. The mailman, not realizing that Harper was to stay in the cottage delivered Harper's correspondence to the main house; which is how I discovered that Harper has applied for Social Security [Disability] benefits. When I approached Harper about this disgrace, he did not deny it; claiming he suffers from depression, which is why he is unable to hold down a job. He informed me that his original filing had been rejected, as was his appeal, because his doctor was not properly certified. Harper did not have an attorney representing him because those he approached demanded he see a certified physician. All in all, this why Harper needs to move into my guest cottage until he can figure out how to secure a primary source of income, now that his trust monies have been depleted.

Tazi, my husband worked very hard to accumulate his wealth and was not at all adverse to sharing it with those in true need of assistance. If he were here today to see what a disgrace his son has become he would disown him! The only thing depressing Harper is his inability to continue sponging off of his late father. My sister suffered from depression, so I am aware of the signs and symptoms and have a genuine concern for those who exhibit them - which Harper does not. The only time he is at all depressed is when the latest party or road trip ends. I believe that the judge saw right through Harper's charade, which is why he was turned down for Social Security. (Did I mention that Harper also smokes marijuana, saying it is a treatment for his depression? Hogwash!).

I would like to tell Harper that I have changed my mind about allowing him to move into my guest cottage, but I am afraid that he will have nowhere else to turn and will end up sleeping on a couch in someone's basement. If, however, I allow him to move into my guest cottage I fear he will be living there until I join his father. Do you have any advice to offer, Tazi?

Harped On

Dear Harped On:

I would first like to address your opinion that Harper's use of marijuana for the treatment of depression. According to a recent John's Hopkins University report hallucinogenic drugs have been shown to help people with mood disorders look at their problems from a different perspective. Marijuana is technically a hallucinogen, but the instance of hallucinogenic experiences while using the drug is very rare. The John Hopkins study did not include marijuana, focusing instead on hard drugs such as "MDMA (also known as the street drug "Ecstasy"), psilocybin ("magic mushrooms"), and ketamine ("Special K")"

In my Mommie's paraprofessional scientific opinion (she has a degree in Science, as well as Communications, but does not hold graduate credentials), any relief Harper gets from smoking marijuana is outweighed by the negative effects of the drug, which include a causal link to mood disorders; such as depression and amotivational syndrome - which may be what your son actually suffers, considering his work history. A psychological examination would be required for an actual and accurate diagnosis, which is why I recommend that you require Harper to get one as a condition to moving into your guest cottage. Should he refuse or claim that he has already received treatment, stand firm and tell him it's your guest cottage; so you make the rules for living there.

If a psychological workup by a properly certified psychiatrist shows that Harper is suffering from depression or any other type of mood disorder that leaves him unable to work the first step is to get him to quit smoking marijuana. If follow-up treatment shows no improvement for his mood disorder he is entitled to re-file for disability benefits. There is no shame in collecting SSDI benefits if they are truly needed. Included in these benefits is medical treatment for the root cause of the disability, in the hope that intensive treatment will cure the disability. SSDI benefits are not guaranteed for life and, in the case of those receiving benefits for mood disorders, a yearly review of benefits can be expected.

I understand your desire to be supportive of your son without being supportive of his bad habits; but at this time I believe you are in the perfect position to see that he gets the medical treatment he needs. In order to protect your own interests, though, I would recommend having your son sign a detailed lease outlining the terms and conditions of his taking up residence in your guest cottage. Your attorney can assist you with this matter, if necessary.


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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Woman Needs to Be The Best, Bride Fears Being Topped On Her Wedding Day

Dear Tazi:

I have a friend who reminds me of the Dilbert character “Topper”. Whatever you say, she can top it. When I broke my ankle and needed help getting around, she droned on about how she once broke her leg in three places but still managed to get the grocery shopping done with no assistance (her brother secretly told me that it was a slight fracture, and that she used the Stop and shop Peapod® service!). Another time, a mutual friend was describing her vacation to the Açores – a trip she had to save for for two years – when Topper interrupted her to tell of her planned trip to the Galapagos Islands; when the trip did not materialize she claimed that she had to cancel it due to the fact that her company simply could not run without her for the two weeks she planned on being gone. Barf.

I am engaged and am planning my wedding. Topper has offered to plan it for me, as her wedding gift to my fiancé and me. While I have to admit she does have some amazing connections and huge talents in the area of event planning (she is a professional event planner), I am afraid that if I accept my wedding will turn into The Topper Show. My fiancé would prefer that Topper have nothing to do with the planning of our wedding, but so far he has had nothing to do with the planning of our wedding, either. All of the work has fallen upon me, and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. I cannot afford to pay for a wedding planner, and Topper really wants to do it. In spite of her need to be the best at everything, she is a really great person and a good friend in all other aspects. What do you say, Tazi?

Topped Off

Dear Topped Off:

I can see your predicament. On the one hand, free wedding planning services from a professional event planner can be a huge temptation; the only problem is that your wedding guests may have to spend the day hearing Topper brag about how she planned the whole day. However, I have a feeling that as a wedding guest Topper will be making every conversation about her anyway, so why fight her when you can make her an ally?

Sometimes, the best way to stop someone from going down a particular path is to cut them off at the pass. I suggest that you accept Topper’s generous offer to plan your wedding as her gift to you. In return for her generosity, you can publically thank her by adding your ebullient and gracious thanks to her at the end of your wedding program. This should give Topper all the attention she wants – and deserves for her efforts. If your wedding guests know enough to compliment Topper for her efforts she may suddenly be struck by a sense of humility, brought on by the sense of fulfillment she is so desperately seeking. Of course, things may go the exact opposite way, too, with Topper basking in your limelight, but that is one reason why you have a Maid/Matron of Honor – to handle problems that crop up so you can enjoy your special day. Make sure that your Honor attendant is aware of Topper’s possible behavior, and make certain that she feels comfortable handling Topper’s special temperament.

I wish you all the best as your wedding approaches and in your married life!


P.S. As for your fiancé’s opinion, until he starts helping you with the wedding planning he has no right to turn down Topper’s offer! --T.K.

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #45 - The Stronger Man?

Dear Readers,

This week while nosing about I came across an assignment my Mommie has for a summer class she is taking (because she couldn't just graduate and leave it at that, could she? Sheesh!). The question posed was, "Who is the stronger man?" and gave the names of Senator John McCain and President Barack Obama.

The stronger man? As in who can bench press more? That would be a no-brainer, considering that Senator McCain cannot lift his right arm above shoulder height! Since I did not think that is what the point of this question was, I decided I delve deeper. I jumped into my yoga suit and gave this subject some deep thought.

Did I fail to mention that I do yoga naked?

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Short Woman Prefers, Has Trouble Finding, A Shorter Man

Dear Tazi:

I have an unusual problem and I am uncertain how to approach it. I am only attracted to men who are shorter than me; the problem is, I am only 5-foot-2, which seriously limits my selection. I am not sure why I like short men; but I know I am not attracted to taller guys. I think it is because short men do not rely on their height to impress people and instead rely on their personality.

I have tried dating taller men, but nothing ever clicked between us; I really was not interested. Is there something wrong with me? Or is it normal to only be attracted to men of a certain height?

Five-Foot-Two and Eyes of Blue

Dear Five-Foot-Two and Eyes of Blue:

Many societies put a large emphasis on height, equating it with power. Here in America, there has not been a President shorter than 5’8” in almost two centuries (not since John Quincy Adams, who was 5' 7 1/2")! To be attracted solely to men of short stature is unusual in our society, but there is nothing abnormal about it.

Most people have a particular “type” to which they are attracted; just because you are attracted to a type that falls outside of the average does not mean that there is something wrong with you. So long as you are not discriminating against men solely because of their height, and it appears that you have not, I see nothing wrong with your preferences. In fact, I am prepared to receive emails from short men everywhere asking for your contact information!

If you are having trouble meeting men that interest you due to your height requirement, I suggest you loosen your rather stringent physical criteria – just as a man will have trouble finding Ms. Right if he insists she weigh no more than 110 pounds, your insistence that a man be no taller than 5’2” is going to limit your search for Mr. Right.


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

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lack Of Thought Counts More Than The Thought Itself

Dear Tazi:

I have been deeply insulted by “Vera”, the Volunteer Coordinator at my local community center, and she refuses to apologize for her errant behavior. I know she reads your column – she prints it out and posts it for the senior citizens who do not have the Internet – so I know she will see this letter if you print it!

I am a busy woman. Just because I do not hold a job outside the home does not mean I have no commitments in my life. However, I believe that giving back is a way of showing thankfulness for one’s blessings; therefore, I volunteer one Saturday morning a month at the local community center. With my busy schedule, I sometimes forget which Saturday morning I have volunteered for and I miss my scheduled day. I feel bad about this, but it is the thought that counts, and I always offer to come in on another Saturday, should my schedule allow, but Vera never bothers to schedule me.

The last time I missed my scheduled appointment was because my hairdresser was able to schedule me into a cancellation slot. I needed to get my hair done for a big charity fundraiser that night, so I accepted the appointment without realizing that it was my day to volunteer at the community center. Vera called and left me a message calling me “undependable” and telling me that she would no longer be putting me on the volunteer schedule. Tazi, I have never been so insulted! I am involved in several charitable organizations as well as social groups that depend on me as much or more than the community center; to call me “undependable” it outright insulting and to essentially fire me for missing a few scheduled days is beyond the pale. I have never been so insulted and I want Vera to know just how wrong her behavior was.

I am hoping that you will print my letter so visitors to the community center can see it and will let Vera know that she not only owes me an apology, but also placement back on the volunteer schedule.

Miss Generosity

Dear Miss Generosity:

My, you sound like an important person! Does the rest of the world know how important you are, or is this sense of importance all in your own mind? I am printing your letter because you – and others who think like you – need to realize that when you make a commitment to volunteer others are depending upon you to actually show up to honor your commitment!

You are correct in saying that it is the thought that counts, but in your case it is your lack of thought that counts more. Just thinking about showing up to volunteer does not make a difference in the world; you have to actually remember to show up and do your part in order to be “giving back”. Do you really think an appointment at the beauty salon was more important than honoring your commitment to volunteer at the community center? Honestly? I admire your commitment to attending a charity gala – you could have just as easily gone for a night on the town without donating to charity – but I do not think the charity you are supporting would support your decision to blow off a volunteer shift for the beauty parlor. Your attitude makes me want to barf. Excuse me while I go find Mommie’s new shoes.

I rule that Vera does not owe you an apology; I believe that it is you who owes Vera – and the visitors to the community center – the apology. There are three ways in which a person can give back to their community; they are through gifts of time, talents, and treasure. Since your time is obviously in short supply, perhaps you can find a way to donate from the other two.

Perfunctory Snuggles,

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Empty Nester Fears What Future With Rude Husband Will Bring

Dear Tazi:

My husband is a very rude person. He has been like this for almost our whole married life, and I sometimes wonder why I stay him until I remind myself of his good qualities – he is a wonderful parent and a good provider; and he is never rude to me, only to people outside of our family.

If we go out to a restaurant, the service is never good enough and “Harry” will be rude to the server, to the point where he has made several waitresses cry (this is why there are several restaurants at which he is no longer welcome). When watching a sporting event Harry cheers for the fouls; unsportsmanlike conduct; and injuries, claiming that for what the players are paid they should suffer injuries. I will no longer attend live sporting events with Harry because of this behavior.

There are few couples that Harry and I remain friends with because his rude behavior knows no bounds; Harry finds entertainment in the misery of others, especially those who he considers born under a lucky star. Having lived with this my whole marriage, you are probably wondering why I am only now complaining about it, right? The problem is our youngest is flying the nest and from now going forward it will be just Harry and me at home; with few friends to socialize with, no school events to attend, PTA meetings or other events that revolved around the children, I am afraid that Harry’s attitude is going to send me over the edge. I live in a pretty small town, so there are no museums to visit or other cultural events that would get me out of the house, and I haven’t worked in years – plus, since I do not need the income I would feel guilty if I were taking a paying job from someone who needed it. Do you have any suggestions on what to do with my time?

Empty Nester

Dear Empty Nester:

You say that Harry is “never” rude to you, only to people outside of your family. If this is true, why are you so afraid to be spending more time with him? Could it be that Harry has not been rude to you in the past because you had an escape outlet – your involvements in your children’s lives – should his attitude hit a little too close to home? Otherwise, why dread being alone with him now that the children are grown and on their own?

It appears to me that you have done what many a good parent has done – immersed yourself so deeply in your children’s lives that you left no room for interests of your own or interests as a couple. Your husband’s enjoyment of hurtful behavior could be his way of releasing his feelings of anger and neglect; if you spent your life paying more attention to the children than to him, I can see why resentment would build. Your husband could just be a jerk; but I will give him the benefit of the doubt, having never met him.

Now that your children are grown and moved out, why not try to rekindle the relationship between you and Harry. Let your husband know that, now that it’s just the two of you, you would like to explore new interests as a couple. I realize that your town is a small one, but there must be a library or other cultural centers that offer regular events. The two of you could join a book discussion club, a community gardening club, or do some volunteering at a local hospital or nursing home. If you miss having children in your life you could sign up through Big Brothers/Big Sisters to be a surrogate grandparent. If Harry is retired or has free time on the weekends, you could plan day trips to places of interest to the both of you. If Harry’s attitude does not improve with increased attention from you, try exploring new opportunities and interests on your own; it’s a great way to fight boredom and make new friends – ones that Harry cannot chase off since he will not be around to insult them.


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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teenager Fears College Life Will Ruin Her Perfect Life At Home

Dear Tazi:

My life is very normal. I have two wonderful parents, still married, who never argue in front of me or my sister. Speaking of my sister, we get along great – she is the best little sister anyone could ever want. I have a dog (sorry, Tazi!) who I love to death and enjoy taking for long runs in the park, and I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. My family is not rich, but I do not want for anything I need; I do well in school; and have great friends who do not pressure me to drink or do drugs. I am a cheerleader for my high school and my boyfriend is one of the Captains of the football team (surprise, surprise huh?). Basically, my life is so incredibly perfect it is positively abnormal!

I guess you are wondering why I am writing to you, huh, Tazi? I will be finishing my senior year of high school later this year, which means college is only a few months away. Both of my parents are legacies from the same college, and they would love for me to go to the family alma mater, as well. I would love to continue with this family tradition, but I am scared to go out on my own! The school in question is three hours from home, so there is no way I could commute every day; I would have to live there, in a dormitory or an off-campus apartment.

Moving away to school would mean leaving behind my dog, my little sister, my friends, my parents, and my entire life! My boyfriend would be going to school nearby, so I would have him to depend upon, but I know he will be busy with his own school and probably football, too (he has been offered a scholarship). I want to make my family proud; I just wish college was closer to home! Do you have any advice to help me overcome my fears and enjoy the rest of my senior year, Tazi?

Future Tiger

Dear Future Tiger:

Something I have learned from writing this column is that Southern traditions die hard, so I can understand why you want to continue the tradition of your parents and your grandparents and your…

Moving away from home for the first time can be incredibly heartbreaking, especially when home is such a wonderful place. A three hour drive may sound like a million miles away from loved ones, but the truth is it is not that far – especially nowadays, when there is Skype, and Facebook, and other ways to communicate in real and almost real time.

A big part of growing up and making the transition from childhood to adulthood is moving out of your parents’ house and being responsible for yourself. Moving into a college residence hall is often a first step, a halfway point between living at home and being completely on your own. Living in a residence hall can offer many benefits while in college. In addition to making new friendships it relieves you of several hours a week of commuting time (which can be used for be used for both studying and extracurricular activities); plus it helps you to learn how to be responsible for your own life, without having Mom and dad there to tell you what to do and when to do it. In short, you can learn a lot of important life-skills that the classroom cannot teach you.

The fact that your boyfriend wants to continue your relationship through your college years is the sign of a man who cares very deeply for you – a lot of young men move away to college and forget the promises they made to their girlfriends back home – so he will be one constant in your life that will help you to adjust to your new living situation. Plus, there will be weekends where you can go home for a visit and weekends when your family will come to visit you (I have a feeling the latter will occur most often during football season!).

Just because you are moving away for a few years does not mean that you are moving on permanently; try to keep this in mind as you finish your final year of high school. As the school year winds down, your friends are bound to start firming up their college plans; let yourself get caught up in the bittersweet excitement and the future will not look so daunting!


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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Healthy Living Is Making Man Wish For A Quick End

Dear Tazi:

My wife is driving me nuts! At my last annual check-up the doctor told me that I am “entering heart attack country”, due to my age, and should watch my diet and exercise. I have always been one to do things in moderation, which is why my wife’s new and excessive behavior is driving me up a wall!

“Bea” has decided that our pantry will now be a fat-free, low-sodium, health zone. The cream for my coffee has been replaced with fat-free, non-dairy creamer; the butter for my toast is now some sort of cholesterol free “spread”; my eggs have been replaced with Egg Beaters®; my salt with Mrs. Dash®; and my Planters® peanuts with soy nuts, which I won’t touch.

Tazi, I have always been one to watch my weight and exercise three times a week. I have never been more than 10 pounds overweight. I drink in moderation. Bea insists that because my father died of a heart attack I am at higher risk of one myself, and therefore must take extra precautions such as the ones she is implementing. I try to remind Bea that my father weighed over 300 pounds; his favorite meal was a double bacon-cheeseburger with extra everything and a side of fries; and the only exercise he ever got was getting up to change the channel on the TV when nobody else was around to do it for him. Bea is deaf to my defense.

Short of getting a note from my doctor telling Bea that my new diet is excessive, can you think of any I can get Bea to see reason? All of this “healthy living” is killing me!

Too Much of A Good Thing

Dear Too Much of A Good Thing:

One thing is obvious, your wife loves you and wants to see you among the living for several years to come; if she didn’t, she would be fixing you double bacon-cheeseburgers with extra everything and a side of fries and changing the TV channel for you every time the remote was lost.

Your mantra of everything in moderation is a good one, if lived by religiously, not just in moderation! Your idea of having your doctor explain to Bea that her intentions are sweet but extreme is a good one. I suggest that you write a list of the changes in diet that Bea has made; review them with her for accuracy and agreement; and take the list to your doctor. Together you can discuss with him/her what changes are necessary; what changes are recommended; and what changes can wait until the future. Once Bea hears it from the doctor that such extreme measures are not necessary she may be inclined to lighten up on the lightening up! If not, you can always hide food around the house!


P.S. The pendulum swings both ways; if the doctor regards Bea’s changes as reasonable and necessary, you will have to abide by your wife’s new diet plan for you.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Atheist Teenager Seeks To Explore Religion

Dear Tazi:

I am twelve going on thirteen. All of my life I have been raised an Atheist, but since starting middle school I am starting to question these beliefs. I have friends who are Christian, Jewish, and Islamic; and I am curious about their lives and their religions. They are firm believers of their faith and while they have always respected the fact that I am Atheist, I still feel different.

Whenever we have a tough test, I can see many of my friends bowing their heads in a quick prayer. I am not certain if it is the prayers that help or just their belief in prayer, but they always seem less stressed and manage to do better than they thought they would. When times are tough, they put their faith in their god that things will be okay and have friends praying for them. Again, I am not certain if it is the prayers that work or the sense of community outreach, but these people seem to have a sense of serenity that I lack during my own difficulties.

I would like to explore the idea of religion and spirituality in my life, but I do not know how to tell my parents. I am not looking to join a particular organized religion, but I am curious about god and the idea of a God. I know that my friends would gladly help me on this quest; I am not so certain my parents will approve, though. Do you have any ideas on how to convince them to let me explore these ideas?

Looking Into It

Dear Looking Into It:

Most parents are concerned about their teenaged children losing their religion, not gaining it. Your situation is different than most, so I am glad you have a supportive network of friends to help you through this time and to answer any questions you might have about their own religious beliefs and the place their religion plays in their lives. Take advantage of this support group and soak up as much knowledge as you can; it will help you to decide where you stand on what must be a very confusing – and touchy – subject.

As for how you should approach your parents, it has been my experience that most Atheists tend to have more liberal viewpoints on life. This means that although they may not respect your choice they will not stand in your way of exploring it. This does not mean that your parents will support your choice (i.e. drive you to religious services or even to the library to research various religions), but they may surprise you.

You are approaching a time in your life where you will find yourself parting ways with your parents’ beliefs on a variety of subjects; it is a part of growing up. You may find that your beliefs remain your own, or you may discover yourself circling back to the beliefs with which you were raised. This is all a part of your journey to adulthood, and something every parent comes to expect from their child. When you are ready to make a decision, swallow your fear and approach your parents. The strength of your convictions will give you the strength you need to do this.


P.S. According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, the right to freely express and practice one’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and to change one's religious beliefs is a human right guaranteed to all. Just a bit of trivia to lift your heart!

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tazi's Corner #38 - In Observance Of Easter

Dear Readers:

Today Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of Easter (with the exception of Orthodox Christians, who will celebrate it next week). Religion is a topic that can bring out controversy, with arguments both for and against. It is for these reasons that I have chosen the particular essay that I am reprinting today - because it debates not the belief in a deity, but argues the numbers who hold a belief in one man.

To my Jewish readers, I wish you a blessed my Christian readers, a Happy those of other beliefs or no beliefs at all, I wish you a joyous Sunday!


One Solitary Life
by  Dr. James Allen Francis

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Milk Is Expensive; Should He Buy The Cow?

Dear Tazi:

Do you know the expression "Why buy the cow when milk is so cheap?" Well, milk is no longer cheap. In fact, the price of it is continuously climbing, with the price of local, organic milk topping $7.00 a gallon!

I live in a rural area, and would like to buy a cow in order to produce my own fresh, organic milk. The cost of the cow would be amortized over the years and, in the end, I believe the cost of owning and caring for a milking cow will be cheaper than continuing to buy milk. My wife says I am crazy, and refuses to even consider my plan. She likes you, Tazi, and always says your advice is spot-on, so I know she will listen to you if you agree with me about buying a cow. What do you say? Cats like milk!

Milk Lover

Dear Milk Lover:

You are really talking about milk, right; and not a metaphor for something else? And for the record, a cat's love of milk is an old wives tale. Most cats lack both the ability to taste sweet foods and to digest lactose. If offered milk, most of us cats will drink it for the moisture and promptly get sick.

I just re-read your letter to make sure I wasn't missing anything - you really are considering buying a cow? - and have to ask if you have considered all the angles, including the facts that:

1) a cow has to be milked every day, 2 - 3 times a day, so long as she is producing.

2) a cow is a mammal, and like all mammals does not produce milk (without chemical encouragement) unless she is lactating - which requires her to have recently calved and be regularly pumped in order to keep producing, lest her milk start to dry-up.

3) a good producer can produce 8 - 10 gallons of milk per day; so unless you are Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar or you are planning on sharing your product with the neighbors, you are going to be drowning in milk.

It is possible to purchase a genetically hybridized cow that is smaller and therefore produces only 1 - 2 gallons of milk per day; but you imply a preference for organic milk, so I am not certain this would be the avenue for you to take. WikiHow offers detailed information on how to keep a milking cow, including important considerations on feeding, grazing, and medical care (did you factor veterinary bills into your amortization?).

If at the very least you are not willing to wake every morning at 5 AM to milk your cow - no days off, no holidays, no vacations, and no sleeping-in - and rush home after work every evening to milk her again (no drinks with friends or working overtime), then you should not be entertaining the idea of getting a dairy cow. This is in addition to all of the other responsibilities that come with owning a farm animal. Milk is suddenly looking a whole lot cheaper, huh?

If it is fresh, local, organic milk you seek for a reasonable price you could probably buy it directly from a local diary farmer. Many rural areas have local farms that sell their product to large, commercial dairy producers - a solution to your problem that is much cheaper than buying the cow.

Snuggles to you and your wife,

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Teamster Finds That Others See Him On The Wrong Side Of The Goal

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am a union worker and proud of it. Because of this, a lot of people - who don't even know me - bash me as selfish, and a part of the reason the economy is in such a slump. Union workers have had to share their part of the pain, too, with many of us accepting concessions that were once unheard of for a union worker! Plus, as union membership gets smaller and smaller, many former union jobs are being shipped overseas where cheap labor and questionable quality lead to cheap imports, further devaluing the American economy. Once upon a time, all manufactured goods were Made in USA and the economy was humming along. What can I say to get people to realize that unions are not the problem - and to get them off of my back? Sometimes, I think they are just jealous of the good life that I lead.

Proud Teamster

Dear Proud Teamster:

Once upon a time all goods were manufactured in America because most of the countries where manufacturing occurs - nowadays, China - were insular countries that did not have foreign relations with the U.S. Government. This led to great job opportunities for Americans, who could afford the higher prices of union-made goods because they, too, had higher paying jobs. Additionally, CEO pay was less because CEO's were not expected to work around the clock, 365 days a year; basically selling themselves to the company in exchange for multi-million dollar contracts and stock options (which were also worth a lot less back in the 1950's because fewer people played the market).

Nowadays, Americans are angry about the economy and unions are an easy target to blame. In some cases - like the American automotive collapse a few years ago - union contracts were to blame (with rubber rooms, minimum starting wages of $20+/hour, etc); in others, it is simply greed on behalf of the corporation. Right now, many state governments are on the verge of receivership due to public employee union benefits, which outstrip those of the private sector but are paid for by private sector monies (i.e. taxes). Can you see why people see a big ol' bulls-eye on your back when you comment that you are a "union worker and proud of it" and that you think people are "jealous of the good life" that you lead?

If you want to get people off of your back, you are going to have to lead by example: Buy American everything, from your car to your underwear to the gasoline you put in your rig. Pay full price for everything by refusing to shop at places like Wal-Mart, Target, or Costco; and try to get your fellow union members to do the same. This will not be an easy task, but it will leave you with a clear conscience when people harp on you about how unions are running down the economy, and it will give you a fighting chance against those who seek to argue.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Real Life Is Not As Seen On TV

Dear Tazi:

I am a young adult with absolutely no skills. I did horrible in high school so college is out of the question and I have no job skills. I am not handy in any way, shape, or form and have never had a job. I live with my parents who have told me that I need to get a job or else they are going to cut me off financially. I like playing video games, but no place is hiring a video game tester (I looked); not even the local arcade. My father works for a newspaper and I was hoping he could get me a job as a movie or video game critic, but he just looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him that and told me that you needed to be a journalist to get a job like that.

I was watching some reruns of King of Queens when I heard the dog walker on the show mention how much money a dog walker can make in one week. The job seems pretty easy, and I like dogs, it just seems like a lot of walking but I suppose I could take a rest once I reached the dog park and let the dogs run free before taking them home again. Do you think this would be a good idea for a job? I want to hang up some flyers and get a few clients before I tell my parents, because I don’t want them to laugh at my idea. Do you think this is a good idea?


Dear Unemployed:

I am happy to hear that you have found your motivation, but are you fully aware of all the responsibilities that go into being a professional dog walker? It is more than just dropping the animals off at the dog park for a run and then bringing them home again. There are issues of licensing and insurance – you cannot get one without the other – that will indemnify you if a dog under your care is injured or injures another, be it a human or another animal.

A professional dog walker must also work with scheduling of clients – you can only walk so many dogs at once and only certain dogs together. If two dogs do not get along they must be walked at different times. Additionally, there is the matter of bookkeeping and customer accounts. When you run your own business you are responsible for keeping track of and paying all of your expenses, from charging the correct customer for doggie treats to paying your own social security and Medicare taxes.

As easy as it sounds, being self-employed is often much more difficult than working for somebody else. I strongly suggest that you pick up the phone book and look for a social services agency that provides career counseling and job placement. If you think employers are going to knock on your door to offer you work based upon your video gaming skills, you are sadly mistaken – and your father is correct, in regard to the need for professional training or a degree in journalism to work as a product reviewer. Do not fall for those easy-money Internet schemes that promise otherwise; they will only cost you money that you do not have to spend.

I wish you the best of luck in finding a job and some sort of career interest, because it sounds like you are in dire need of it. Please write me back in a few months to let me know how things are turning out for you!


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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Should A Parent Move In When Spouse Says No?

Dear Tazi:

My mother-in-law lost her husband (my husband's third step-father) last year and, due to poor financial decisions since, can no longer support the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. She is not about to end up in a homeless shelter - she has plenty of money - but she can no longer afford to take lengthy vacations, travel, or eat out in upscale restaurants a few times a week as she did before she was widowed.

"Agatha" has complained to my husband that she is "devastated" over the changes she is being forced to make and is "wallowing in depression" since the death of her fourth husband. She has asked my husband if she can move in with us to "save on expenses". Her house has a very small mortgage ($500 a month) expenses are taxes, food, utilities, etc. My husband is all for his mother moving in with us, but I have put my foot down and told him no. I do not think it is right for her to move in with us - free of all expenses, which is her request - so she can continue to live a life of luxury while we scrimp and save. My husband understands where I am coming from on this issue, and he says he agrees with my point of view, but ends every argument with "But this is my MOM!". He seems to have forgotten that I am his WIFE!

Agatha has always been the type to take over and demand that things be done her way or the highway - thus her three divorces from four marriages; all three of her husbands left her and I think the fourth died just to avoid the stress of a divorce at age 75. I know if she were to move in with us she would insist on being the woman of the house and try to usurp my position as mother to my children. I know because every time she comes over she criticizes everything I do, from how I clean to what I allow my children to eat.

Are my only choices to let Agatha move in and live with her, or let Agatha move in while I take my children and move out?

Rock And A Hard Place

Dear Rock And A Hard Place:

You and your husband need to seek marital counseling - NOW! He says that he understands and agrees with your point of view, yet he chooses to ignore what is best for your marriage in order to please his self-centered mother. Yes, I understand that she is his mother but when he married you he vowed to forsake all others for you - that vow included Mom.

Your fear of losing your position as the woman of the house is also understandable. Your mother-in-law is used to being in control, so she may feel it her right to take over the lives of her son and grandchildren. If you are determined not to allow this to happen - even if it means going so far as to separate from your husband - you need to let him know this; preferably in the presence of a marriage counselor. If neither you nor your husband is willing to budge on this issue, might there be a solution in finding a home to accommodate all of you? A two-family house or a single-family home with an in-law apartment are both possibilities that would also buy you time while you looked for just the right fact, it could take years to find exactly the right place (if you catch my meaning).

In the meantime, while you are buying time, Agatha needs to speak with a financial adviser; develop a budget; and learn to stick to it. The matter of her mortgage is important - regardless of how "small" it is; it is still a fixed expense that must be met every month. If she moved in with you, would Agatha be selling her house or renting it? Either way, it would provide an income for her to assist with the added expense of having her live with you. Do not allow her to move in expense free as long as she can afford to pay something towards her care. Once you lay down the rules and Agatha realizes that she will not be getting a free ride she may be more inclined to stay in her own space. Moving in with a daughter-in-law who doe snot want her there would be no picnic for Agatha, either.


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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Child's Safety Must Come Before Hurt Feelings

Dear Tazi:

I have an issue with my ex-husband and I am not certain how to deal with it. I liked the response you gave to the Mom whose ex-husband wanted to turn their daughters into toddlers with tiaras; and I am hoping you can give me some good advice, too.

"Edgar" (my ex) has suffered from what he calls phantom illness and the rest of the world calls hypochondria. I know that sounds harsh and judgmental, but he has been medically diagnosed with hypochondria - a diagnosis he refuses to accept. Edgar has claimed everything from depression (which only affected his ability to work, not to party, hang out with friends playing video games, or do anything else he enjoyed) to fibromyalgia (which again did not affect his ability to do things he enjoyed, including weightlifting). Essentially, if it is an illnesses that cannot be medically proved or disproved through definitive tests, Edgar has claimed to have it. After five years of this, I finally divorced him.

I am currently engaged to be married this June, and my son could not be more happy with my choice! He keeps asking me when he can start calling "Kyle" his step-dad, and is very excited that he will be have a big brother in Kyle's older son (who adores my son, as well). Seeing this family dynamic start to form has made me very happy, but Edgar very upset.

My ex-mother-in-law called me yesterday to tell me that Edgar seems truly depressed, and is talking about "ending it all" since he feels that he is "no longer needed". I have little to no contact with Edgar, except as it relates to our son, so I am unable to tell if Edgar is serious or exaggerating. I have said little to Edgar about my upcoming wedding, but I know that it is all my son talks about to whoever will listen, so I am pretty sure that Edgar is aware of our child's excitement, which I believe is what has triggered Edgar's veiled threats of suicide.

I once read a news story about a man who set fire to his house, killing both himself and his two precious sons. The visitation was supervised by a social worker, but the man locked her out once the children were inside the house. This tragedy has me on high alert for what I would normally just regard as Edgar being Edgar. I am petrified that Edgar will follow through on his threat to "end it all" and take my son with him when he does. Because of this, I have decided it best to suspend Edgar's visitation rights with our son (I have sole custody) until I feel that Edgar is well enough to handle himself emotionally. I informed him of this yesterday, while on the phone with his mother (he lives with her, and she picked up the other line when I asked her to simply put Edgar on the phone).

My decision has upset more than a few people, most especially Edgar and his mother; who feel my decision is what will put Edgar over the edge, leading him to make good on his threat. His mother actually told me that if her son kills himself it will be "[my] hands that his blood is upon". Dramatic, huh? Their reaction truly cemented my decision, and I plan on standing firm upon it.

Now that you know the background of my story, I am hoping that you can advise me on how to tell my son that he will not be seeing his father for a while. I do not wish to lie to my child; but I feel the truth will be a little to much for him to handle (he is only 7-years-old). Can you give me some words to work with, Tazi? I am afraid that anything I say will involve speaking poorly of Edgar, and I am trying to take the high road.

"Poe" Me

Dear "Poe" Me:

I like your choice of signature! I am assuming this is why you chose to call your ex-husband "Edgar" in your letter! Paws up for your creativity! Now, onto your problem...

Edgar has been diagnosed with a form of mental illness - hypochondria - that responds well to treatment for most people but is something he refuses. The fact that he refuses to believe the diagnosis, coupled with the fact that his proclaimed illnesses are all impossible to test for with any scientific certainty (lab tests, X-rays, etc), makes me wonder if Edgar is simply a scam-artist and his latest claim - suicidal tendencies - is an attempt to manipulate you emotionally. I am happy to see that you are not falling for it; however, any threat of suicide is something that must be taken seriously.

I, too, remember all too well the tragedy of those two boys from Utah; and I can see why this news story would make any parent a nervous wreck. Therefore, my advice to you is two-fold. I believe your first step should be to report Edgar's threats of suicide to a proper authority. Your attorney should be notified as to the reason you are withholding visitation, especially if it has been court-ordered. The courts may then order Edgar committed for a psychiatric evaluation. Once one has made a threat of suicide, the state can step in and force an evaluation. This may sound cruel and over-reactionary, but it really is the best and safest way to ensure Edgar's well-being and, by extension, your son's. Do not allow visitation to continue until Edgar has been properly evaluated and is receiving treatment. Your attorney can assist you with this matter.

Your second step is to explain to your son why he cannot see his father. Explain to him that his father is sick, and that is making him act cranky and in a way that is not very nice. Tell your son that his father needs to get treated to make sure he can be the best Dad he can possibly be; and in order to do that he needs to spend some time by himself to make sure he doesn't take his bad mood out on your son. This should be enough information for your son to process, without overwhelming him with the details. I wish you all the best with this delicate situation; and many blessings in your new marriage!


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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Unless You Are In Providence, RI; Friendship Is A Two-Way Street

Dear Tazi:

I find myself in a rather delicate situation, and I am not quite certain how to address it. I have a friend who is a lot of fun to be around when times are good; but when things start to go downhill for "Chris" he turns into a selfish jerk who can't see past the end of his own nose. More often than not, times are bad or teetering on bad because Chris also has a horrible work ethic. He refuses to do what he needs to do to survive, preferring to do what he wants to do; even if it doesn't bring in enough money to pay his bills. This is where my problem gets complicated.

"Chris" considers himself to be a modern artist, which I guess is one way you could describe his work, because I don't consider that stuff to be real art. Chris' work is very simplistic - he will take a plate of half-eaten food and spray it with shellac; then declare it his latest work, calling it something like "Remains of an Appetite". His titles are always catchy, but his work...just isn't art. Unfortunately, Chris just doesn't see this and is constantly pressuring me - and the rest of our friends - to buy his "creations"; offering us a "friends and family" price, usually in the range of a few thousand dollars. When we refuse to buy his stuff he accuses us of being un-supportive of his artistic and economic endeavors, and then blames us for his financial woes. When we suggest that he look for a steady job with a regular paycheck, we get accused of not understanding him, on top of not being supportive (this is a regular complaint from him: that he - and his "art" - are misunderstood). He then offers us the chance to "make up for it" by loaning him money that he will repay in the form of favors - mowing the lawn or other house-chores that we don't pay others to do, that he never gets around to doing anyway, and that will not return the cash he "borrowed" to our bank accounts.

I realize this letter probably sounds fake by now, but trust me it is a real problem. I would like to tell Chris to take a hike the next time he harps on me to buy one of his sculptures or paintings or to outright give him money (in return, of course, for favors from him); but the last person who did that got trashed on every social media site you can think of, including here on Chris wasn't just blowing off steam - he mentioned this person by name, which now appears in Google searches for her, which is making her search for a new and better job rather difficult. When she asked him to remove her name from his rants, he told her that she had made her bed, and now she could lay in it. He later apologized to her (after she threatened legal action against him), claiming that he was "depressed that day" because yet another gallery had rejected his portfolio for display. However, the damage to her reputation has been done. I would really like to avoid a similar fate, but am not sure how to disentangle myself from this delicate situation. Chris and I run in the same social circles, so I can't avoid him forever.

Part-Time Actor, Full-Time Realtor

Dear Part-Time Actor...:

I take all letters seriously, and can generally tell when they are fake. Yours sounds sincere.

Some artists - like some actors - can be extremely sensitive about their work, taking to heart the slightest criticism of their craft. These people are also the type to be chronically unemployed in their field because they have inflated their own worth to a level far beyond what others see. Does this describe your friend Chris?

I can understand your desire not to be publicly flogged via the social networking sites that litter the Internet, but you cannot allow yourself to be coerced into maintaining a friendship where all of the benefits are headed in one direction. Friendship is not a one-way street (unless you are in Providence, RI; where Friendship Street actually is enforced for one-way traffic).

Welcome to Providence, RI!
The next time Chris asks you to purchase one of his creations, surprise him: tell him you would like to view his selection, and take a few days to consider where you might display it in your home - and then do it. If you still decide his work is hideous, you can honestly tell him that you considered his work; but that is just doesn't go with your decor. This may not get him off your back completely, but if nothing else it will buy you a few days of peace from his incessant requests. Should his requests continue, ask him if he has anything new since you last reviewed his stuff and if he thinks it would go with your decorating. In other words, humor him until he gets tired of making an effort to actually sell his work.

When you see Chris at social functions I suggest that you do not approach him, and do your best to be in deep, personal conversation with another should he choose to approach you. To interrupt would be rude, but if he does you will have an excuse to ignore him for a few days; until you "get over the slight". As childish as this sounds, you need to play his game in order to beat him at it.

The next time Chris asks to "borrow" money in return for favors worked, suggest to him that he do the work up-front, and that you will pay him an agreed upon price. If his work ethic is as awful as you claim, I doubt he will approach you again about one of these loans. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) Chris will stop seeing you as an easy target and will most likely distance himself from you, as there is nothing that you can do for him that would not involve a serious effort on his part. Either that, or he will work on changing his attitude...however, I would not bet my money on that horse.


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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #43 - Think FAST! It May Be A Stroke!

Dear Readers,

It has been al,most a year since my Mommie was afflicted with Bell's Palsy - a condition that mimics a stroke.  While she has completely recovered because she received immediate medical care, there are others out there who still do not know the signs of a stroke! As a PSA, I am repeating the column that ran that weekend. --T.K.

Gosh, my Mommie has given me a scare! Yesterday,  I was rubbing against her jaw like I always do to show affection when she pushed me away, saying her jawline hurt. The next morning over breakfast, that same jaw went slack as she was eating her cereal; she drooled all over her work uniform. Lucky for me (and her) my Mommie is trained in basic medical emergency care. She knew the early signs of stroke:

Face: Is one side of your face drooping to once side? Can you smile, or does one side of your mouth not move? Can you blink both eyes or does one not close or only close with great effort? Can you lift both eyebrows or does one stay put? Some have said that the symptoms feel like a sudden, very painful sinus infection on one side of the face.

Arms: Can you lift both arms above your head? Do you have unusual weakness in one hand as you try to make a fist or grip something?

Speech: Can you talk or do your words sound slurred or even nonsensical? Do your words catch in your mouth because one side of your tongue feels inoperable? Are you unable to purse your lips to mae a "p" or "
b" sound?

If your answer "yes" to ANY of the above than don't waste...

Time! The above symptoms are early symptoms of a stroke, and every minute lost is precious time lost. After about five minutes without oxygen, brain cells start to die. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately! Do not wait for someone to drive you to the hospital - call rescue! The EMT's and paramedics will be able to start treatment en route to the hospital, and call the hospital so the Emergency Room personnel can prepare for your arrival. A friend or family member cannot accomplish this in their sedan or SUV.

My Mommie was very lucky. She did not have a stroke, but a virus that mimics the symptoms of stroke, resulting in Bell's palsy. The virus in question attacks the facial muscles on one side of the face, leaving those affected with facial paralysis. The paralysis is only temporary if you seek immediate medical treatment, so even if you are not convinced you are having a stroke the above symptoms do require immediate treatment to avoid permanent damage.

Do not be afraid or feel foolish calling for emergency assistance. Many an EMT has said that they would rather be called to duty for a false alarm than see a true emergency go ignored. Again, the word to remember is FAST:

The life you save may be your own. For more information on the early signs of stroke, please visit the American Stroke Association. They even have a free app for your Apple or Android smart phone! 


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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Grown Siblings Have Grown Apart, Should Mother Intervene?

Dear Tazi:

I have two sons. I will call them “Zip” and “Zap” because I do not want them to identify themselves if they read your column. They are only a year apart in school so they grew up very close until they reached their teenage years. It was at this point that Zap sought to create his own identity separate from his brother’s shadow. Because Zap is the younger of the two, Zip is the one that everyone got to know first, the one that always got to do things first. Zap became known as “Zip’s brother”, in spite of his efforts to establish himself as an independent person. To his great discredit, Zip basked in this limelight and never corrected people when they referred to Zap by this moniker.

Both of my sons are now attending state university, and thankfully they are in different programs which have allowed them to meet new and different people and run in different crowds. While Zip has just finished his second year and has been concentrating solely on his schoolwork, Zap blossomed during his freshman year. He has joined an intramural sports team and has successfully pledged a fraternity, in addition to making the Dean’s List. Zip, accustomed to being the brother that everyone knows, is feeling resentful of the attention Zap is receiving. Although both are in competitive academic programs, Zip has taken to saying that Zap is majoring in “basket weaving” while he is taking a more rigorous course of study. This is but one example of the barbs Zip has been throwing Zap’s way.

Zap has been patient with his brother. When I asked him if everything was okay between them, he told me that he understands how it feels to always come in second, so he is willing to let things go for now, but at the same time his patience is wearing thin. I am afraid that the death knell to their relationship is close at hand. Last week at a party, I witnessed Zip try to embarrass Zap in an attempt to make people laugh. Zap kept quiet, but I could see his jaw twitching; something that happens when Zap is angry beyond control.

I pulled Zip aside and had a word with him about his behavior, but he just responded with a negative tone, saying that somebody needs to but Zap in his place now that his popularity is soaring. Tazi, I love both of my sons so much and it pains me to see them hurting like this. I would like to tell Zip that he has had his day in the sun and that now it is time to let Zap have his, but I am afraid that Zip will think that I am taking sides against him. For what it’s worth, Zap is still the same humble boy he has always been; it is Zip whose ego is out of control. All I want is for my sons to get along like they did when they were children. Do you think that this is possible? Should I intervene? How much?


Dear Z-Mom:

Your sons are not children anymore, so it is time for them to start acting like adults. From what you write, it sounds like Zap has been taking the high road while Zip is wallowing in self-pity and resentment. The fact that he has put down his brother to entertain others, while building up his own ego, is pathetic. It is grossly out of line and shows a complete lack of maturity. It is as if Zip’s emotional development is arrested at the high school level. This is a problem that will start to affect other areas of his life, as well as hold him back in life, if he does not put a stop to it now. Family counseling may be helpful, but all involved must be on-board in order for it to work. Your sons are relatively young, but the issue of one-upmanship has been simmering for years so you cannot expect it to be solved overnight. I realize that, as their mother, you would like to mediate; but the fact of the matter is that they will need to resolve this issue on their own. Ignore any requests to take the side of one over the other, but offer correction as necessary and appropriate.

If you see or hear one of your sons doing or saying something that you know to be inappropriate or untruthful (such as the incident at the recent party or the “basket weaving” comment) you should continue to pull them aside and correct their behavior. Better you do this than one of their friends, who might not offer to respect privacy or feelings. Such embarrassment will only breed further contempt.

Your sons may legally be men, but emotionally they are still growing up. If you find that Zip’s behavior is getting more hostile towards his brother you may wish to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with him. If you find that Zap is getting to be egocentric or starts flaunting his accomplishments to his brother, you should sit him down, as well. Do not try to resolve their issues; just let them know that you find their behavior disappointing. The problem may resolve itself from there. Nobody wants to disappoint their Mama!

In the end, you must trust that you have done your best as a mother and let your sons work out their differences like men. Some brothers are destined never to be close, while others are as peas in a pod. In time, as Zip and Zap discover their own divergent paths, they may find that they miss each other’s company and reach out to each other. However, in order for that to happen, old hurts must not wound too deep. Remind them of this fact should the need present itself; otherwise, let them decide on their own how close they wish to remain.


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

Friday, April 11, 2014

When Pet-Parents Break Up, Fido And Fluffy Want Visitation

Dear Tazi:

I broke up with my boyfriend the week between Christmas and New Year's. I know what you must be thinking (that I am a horrible person!) but the break-up was mutual, and a long time coming. The passion was gone, and "Jim" and I had drifted apart over the years. My problem has to do with my cat, "Pudgie".

Pudgie was very attached to Jim, and would greet him at the door every day when he returned home from work, just like a dog! (Sorry if that comparison offends your cat-like sensibilities, Tazi). Pudgie insisted on napping on top of Jim and would sleep by our bedroom door at night, to keep guard. If I paid too much attention to Jim, Pudgie would get territorial and shove me away while showering Jim with attention. Like I said, Pudgie was very attached to Jim.

Since I am the homeowner in the relationship, Jim moved out when we broke up; since Pudgie was my cat to begin with, there was no question of who he belonged to and who he would live with as Jim and I parted ways - or so I thought. Pudgie, it appears, has other ideas on his agenda. It appears that he misses Jim. Pudgie still sits and stares at the door every evening, around the time Jim would come home every night, and when Jim does not appear Pudgie meows like a crying child. I try to soothe him, but he won't have it. When I go to bed at night, Pudgie roams the house and cries (I tried locking him in another room, but he scratched to door something awful!). When I get up in the morning, Pudgie looks at me like his heart is broken, and meows for Jim. I can't go on like this! Seeing Pudgie so sad breaks my heart! He's not eating, and is even losing the pudginess that gave him his name (which I suppose is a good thing, but not really at the same time).

I truly have no desire to get back with Jim, so I am hesitant to call him and invite him over to visit with the cat; in fact, I am hesitant to tell him that the cat misses him because it sounds like a ridiculous attempt to get back with him! On the other hand, I can't leave Pudgie to suffer like this...what do you think would be the best approach to reuniting Pudgie and Jim, without making it sound like I am desperate to get back with him?

Concerned Cat Owner

Dear Concerned Cat Owner:

Science has recently discovered something that people have known for a long time: animals can feel emotions and have emotional attachments. Creatures from elephants to orangutans have been seen expressing sorrow and grief over the loss of a tribe member, even when there has been no loss of protection or provisions due to the loss. This shows that the grief is not a matter of altruism, but of actual heartfelt sorrow. Pudgie is indeed mourning the loss of his preferred human companion (no offense to your human sensibilities!).

If you are sincere about not wanting to reunite with Jim, I suggest that you email him a copy of your letter to let him know just how much Pudgie misses him, and suggest some sort of visitation schedule (since I am certain that Jim misses Pudgie, too!). If Pudgie is an outdoor cat, would he take to a harness so Jim could have a play-date in the park with him? If Pudgie is an indoor cat, do you trust Jim to be alone with him in the house to cat-sit Pudgie while you run errands? If not, is Jim allowed to have a pet visit where he is currently living? Do you have a mutual friend who would not mind hosting Jim and Pudgie for an afternoon once or twice a week? Visitation with Jim could greatly improve Pudgie's emotional state and attitude.

When couples split, all the animals involved know is that someone they loved is no longer around; they do not understand what has happened, and can experience a sense of abandonment. For Pudgie's sake, I hope that Jim understands this and is willing to make time for visitation with Pudgie. Whether either of you want to accept it or not, Pudgie is his cat, too - at least in Pudgie's eyes he is! Jim, your cat needs you! Please make some time for him.

Snuggles to all,

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Sell Or Not To Sell? That Is One Man's Question!

Dear Tazi:

I live in an area where the housing market is especially depressed. The good thing about this is that I do not have a mortgage; I own my own home. The bad thing is that my wife wants to sell and move to Florida. “Mildred” feels that since we do not owe a mortgage on the house, anything we get will be profit so we do not have to wait until the market improves to sell.

Tazi, Mildred is my second wife. We married after the house was paid for, partially with the monies of my late wife’s life insurance. I resent the idea that her death has allowed for a “profit” on the house and would tell Mildred directly if it were not for the fact that she is so sensitive about my first wife (that is another issue altogether).

I have informed Mildred that I do not wish to sell the house until the economy improves and offers a better return on investment. I have agreed to move to Florida (against my personal desires) and rent our current home but Mildred does not think this is a good idea. She would rather have a lump sum of cash than a monthly dividend. I am afraid if we sell this house for a lump sum the money will be gone all at once, too. Mildred loves to spend, a habit I was unaware of until after we were married.

Tazi, I love my wife and want to make her happy, but I cannot do that if it is going to mean great financial loss. I know what I would like to do…but am uncertain if it is the right choice, morally. What would you advise?

Frugal Fred

Dear Frugal Fred:

When in doubt, take a moment to scratch behind the ears of a feline. The soft fur and the rhythmic purr will relax you; melt away your stress; and make for one very happy kitty! Oh, it will also clear your head so you can think straight. If you do not have a feline, I suggest you make a trip to your local animal shelter and adopt one. If this is not possible, ask a friend if you can borrow their cat. Let the meditative ear scratches commence!

Now that you are relaxed and your mind is clear, what is your inner voice telling you? Is it telling you to feed me some kitty treats? Oh, sorry…I pull this exercise on Mommie all the time. Is your inner voice telling you to follow your heart? Morally, you should at least consider your wife’s wishes, just as she should consider yours. Knowing how much she likes to spend money, would it be morally responsible of you to sell your house (for a lesser price) and watch her spend it all within a few years? Or would it be more prudent to rent your house and use the monthly proceeds to buy/rent a place in Florida?

One of the wonderful things about coupledom is that one partner tends to balance the other. If I were in your shoes, I would again offer the compromise that has already been made: rent your current house, rather than sell, and rent another place in Florida for yourself. You may discover that Florida is not what you want for year-round living (it gets hot and humid in the summer, not to mention the bugs, snakes, and other reptiles).

If I were you, I would explain to Mildred that the compromise on the table is the only move you are willing to make at this time. In the end, you can always change your mind about renting out your house; but should you regret selling there is no buying it back.


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