Posts Tagged ‘alcoholic’

Is Alcohol a Problem for You? A Test

Sunday, December 3rd, 2023

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

no bar


Thanksgiving ushered in the triple-threat season, so-called by many people in recovery because of the heavy emphasis on celebration … and drinking. It’s a time for extra caution and heightened awareness of the easy access and, sometimes, emphasis on alcohol in order to protect one’s recovery.

    But it’s also a time when people not in recovery often find out, often from friends or family, that their drinking is not normal. It’s problematic. Possibly dangerous. 

   With Christmas and New Year’s revelry still to come, it may be a good time for anyone wondering about his or her drinking behavior to take a self-assessment.

There are a few tests available and I’ve offered a couple previously in this column, but in the interests of time I’m presenting the shortest one here. It’s the AUDIT, offered by The World Health Organization and is the most widely used alcohol use assessment tool in the world. AUDIT stands for alcohol use disorders identification test. As always, be honest for the best result.

The AUDIT questionnaire:

Please circle the answer that is correct for you

  1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
  • Never
  • Monthly or less
  • 2-4 times a month
  • 2-3 times a week
  • 4 or more times a week
  1. How many standard drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when drinking?
  • 1or2
  • 3or4
  • 5or6
  • 7to9
  • 10 or more
  1. How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. During the past year, how often have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. During the past year, how often have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. During the past year, how often have you needed a drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. During the past year, how often have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. During the past year, have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
  • Never
  • Less than monthly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily or almost daily
  1. Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
  • No
  • Yes, but not in the past year
  • Yes, during the past year
  1. Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
  • No
  • Yes, but not in the past year
  • Yes, during the past year

Scoring the audit

Scores for each question range from 0 to 4, with the first response for each question (eg never) scoring 0, the second (eg less than monthly) scoring 1, the third (eg monthly) scoring 2, the fourth (eg weekly) scoring 3, and the last response (eg. daily or almost daily) scoring 4. For questions 9 and 10, which only have three responses, the scoring is 0, 2 and 4.

Scoring the AUDIT

The range of possible scores is from 0 to 40, with 0 indicating an abstainer who has never had any problems from alcohol. A score of 1 to 7 suggests low-risk consumptions, according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Scores from 8 to 14 suggest hazardous or harmful alcohol consumption and a score of 15 or more indicates the likelihood of alcohol dependence (moderate-severe alcohol use disorder).

If your score concerns you, there is help available. Talk with your primary care doctor. Call an Alcoholics Anonymous hotline in your area. Call a mental health crisis hotline if one is available.

Excessive alcohol use is now classified as a mental disorder by health officials, somewhat in response to the stigma attached to the word “alcoholic.”  However, most recovering members of Alcoholics Anonymous have no problem with identifying as such. In any case, it is not a moral failing. It can be treated. First, it has to be acknowledged.

Again, be honest. And have a safe and sober holiday season.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Streaming Indictments with Jack Smith

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Special Counsel Jack Smith.

  The first season of Jack Smith saves democracy finally started steaming into our consciousness in Washington, D.C., this week as the special counsel (1.) leveled three federal counts against Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a coup, in effect, to which the now thrice-indicted defendant’s lawyers (2.) kept arguing that free speech gave Trump the right to lie about losing the election, which Smith never denied or charged him with and which (3.) former Vice President Mike Pence suddenly realized he always had a right to when he said (out loud and in public) that Trump asked him to reject the votes of the legitimate electors on Jan. 6, which apparently (4.) prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 has been a disaster, to also forget the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil GOP mantra and say, “Of course he lost the election,” when asked about Trump and 2020, even as (5.) other Republicans stuck to the script and plotted with the “conservative” Heritage Foundation to devise a “battle plan” for the first 180 days of a Republican presidency in 2025, including a strategy that would negate current efforts to slow global warming by eliminating regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells and power plants, dismantling most clean energy programs in the federal government and increasing the production of fossil fuels, even as (6.) the planet suffers through the hottest year on record, which, no one is admitting but seems at least plausible, (7.) could have contributed to flight controllers at NASA’s Cape Canaveral losing track of the Voyager 2 spacecraft for several weeks because they were, in effect, looking in the wrong place, which (8.) is what President Biden told Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has been lobbying to move the new Space Force headquarters from Colorado, where the Air Force Academy is located and recreational pot is legal, to Alabama, where anything Republicans don’t like (abortion, LGBTQ rights, voting rights …) is illegal or tough to come by, when Biden rejected an order by Trump, who created the new military force, to locate it in Alabama, thereby also (9.) sending Tuberville a nasty message for his one-man crusade of putting a hold on hundreds of top Defense Department promotions, which has resulted for the first time in (10.)the Marines and Army both operating with acting commanders and the Joint Chiefs being short-changed, all because (11.) one man objects to a Pentagon plan to provide transportation to service members needing to go to another state for an abortion, a sensible plan in the same vein as (12.) a new Pentagon policy that places control over military sexual assault cases in the hands of a team of independent prosecutors, rather than base commanders, thereby eliminating coverups and favoritism, a policy which came in response to numerous complaints from female service members which led to (13.) legislation creating the new policy, which was spearheaded by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and which Biden signed into law, displaying a concern for the health and well-being of Americans in uniform that (14.) was seriously lacking in the case of Anthony Rizzo, who gets paid millions of dollars to put on the uniform for the New York Yankees, and was apparently allowed to play (poorly as it turned out) for two months while suffering from post-concussive syndrome and also sharing a locker room with Domingo German, who (15.), only four weeks after pitching a perfect game, proceeded to trash the Yankee clubhouse, fight with teammates, get suspended for the season and sent to alcohol rehab, which (16.) gives a whole new level of meaning to the concept of functioning alcoholic and is topped for a New York headline only by (17.) the crosstown Mets trading away Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, their two aging super aces, whom they’re paying tens of millions of dollars to apparently try to win the pennant for two different teams in Texas, (18.) and that’s why reading the sports pages first thing in the morning isn’t as much fun as it used to be, aside from the fact (19.) in the current stream of things, you can’t find them anymore, but then, (20.) there’s always Jack Smith, Season 1, episode 1.

      Binge.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

After Dry January, Dry February?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Addiction and Recovery
By Bob Gaydos

  82177B6B-D6C2-417C-982F-899EE49E1C21  You hang around with an experienced group of people for any amount of time, with any luck, you learn a few things. 

     I’ve been writing a column on addiction and recovery for about 15 years. In that time, I have been fortunate to have many conversations with members of Alcoholics Anonymous who have decades of sobriety. They have freely shared some of their experience and wisdom with me.

      One bit of AA wisdom that I’ve thought about recently goes like this: “People who don’t have a drinking problem don’t have to control their drinking.”

       Hmmm. So why have my social media and news feeds been peppering me daily with stories on “Dry January”? Why the sudden interest in non-alcoholic beer and cocktails? What’s the big rush all of a sudden for, supposedly, thousands of people to decide to see if they can not partake of alcohol for the month of January? It’s suddenly chic?

   Alcoholics, or rather, those who insist they are not alcoholics, have been taking the post-holiday challenge forever in valiant efforts to prove to themselves and (mainly) others that they can control their drinking. Often, they’ve failed. Rehab February.

     But this is different, from what I read. This is people, many apparently younger people, supposedly deciding that it might be in their best interest to abstain from or at least reduce their alcohol intake, at least for the month.

     Given recent reports on an upsurge in alcohol consumption (particularly by women) during the pandemic, an increase in alcohol-related deaths and a myth-busting report which concludes that “no amount of alcohol” is ever good for your health, going dry or easing up on alcohol for a month sounds like a reasonable idea.

      But there are risks involved and if you’re intrigued by the idea of stopping or controlling your drinking there ought to be rules. For starters, what is your purpose? Is it, as previously mentioned, to prove you don’t have a drinking problem? If so, you need to tell other people what you’re doing so there is accountability and, crucially, protection, in case a serious alcohol problem does exist. 

  Going through withdrawal symptoms from avoiding alcohol on one’s own can be painful and dangerous. Be aware of the symptoms and get professional help if they begin. Your effort may have failed, but it might have saved your life.

     If, on the other hand, the purpose is truly to see if life can be just as interesting and fun without alcohol always being involved, again, don’t do it alone. Get some friends involved. Plan alcohol-free activities. Try some of those fancy new alcohol-free “mocktails” the Dry January movement has spawned. If you’re really serious, maybe focus more on exercise. Try to get more sleep. See if you start to feel better physically and emotionally.

     Drawing again on some AA wisdom, the key to succeeding, whatever your goal, is to be honest and realistic. Whether you’re trying to not drink for a specific month or just cut back, if you find yourself drinking or thinking you’d really like to be drinking in spite of your stated goal, by all means start over again. But be aware of any recurring pattern. There may be a problem.

      On a positive note, if Dry January results in a more responsible general approach to alcohol consumption (as brewers and distillers like to promote), it has to be good for society’s overall health. Alcohol consumption contributes to a multitude of health problems as well as highway and other accidents. It would also go along with the effort by health agencies and providers to remove the stigma and shame often attached to alcoholism by getting rid of the word “alcoholic,” which still conjures up negative images for many people. 

     Officially today, people are diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder, mild, moderate or severe.

   According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use disorder “is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”

     That’s the “drinking and trouble” connection members of AA often talk about.

      On the basic issue of stopping drinking and trying to keep things simple, AA’s Third Tradition states simply that “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

     Adding that touch of reality necessary to recovery, an AA friend asked, “Who would have a desire to stop drinking other than someone who drank too much and got in trouble over it?”

     With sincere hope for the success and good intentions of many a Dry Almost Over January, that’s a question to keep in mind for anyone planning on a dry February or Monday or maybe next Tuesday …

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

An Addict by Any Other Name, Please

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

  What’s in a name? Maybe, recovery.

"New" me, at 73.

Bob Gaydos

Addiction — to opioids, alcohol, heroin, other substances or behavior — is a medically recognized disease, something for which treatment is available and prescribed so that the person who suffers from it can be returned as a contributing member of society. That’s the official, appropriately concerned line put forth by government agencies, the medical community and those who work in the field.

    Unofficially, which is to say, to much of society including members of the aforementioned groups, a person with the disease of addiction is commonly referred to as an addict. A drunk. A junkie. A cokehead or crackhead. An alkie. A pothead. A pill-popper. He or she is often regarded as someone who is weak-willed, immoral, untrustworthy, rather than someone suffering from a disease. A liar. A loser. Someone not worth the time or effort — or money — to associate with, never mind help.

   One of the major obstacles to persons seeking treatment for addiction is the stigma attached to the disease. It has been framed seemingly forever as a moral issue, a crime issue. Rarely — only recently — has it been framed as a health issue. We have waged a war on drugs as we tried to cure cancer or diabetes.

    Words matter.

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania lbast year released a study with the key recommendation to stop using the words “addict,” “alcoholic” and “substance abuser.” The study found the words carry a strong negative bias. Basically, the researchers said, they label the person, not the disease. Study participants not only displayed a reluctance to associate with persons described with those words in fictional vignettes, the researchers said participants also displayed “implicit bias” to the terms themselves when given a word-association task. They were subconsciously reacting negatively to the words.bbb

     If just the words can stir negative bias in people, imagine what an actual person carrying the label “addict” can arouse.

     The Penn researchers said their study was consistent with previous research that found some doctors, even mental health professionals, less willing to help patients who were labeled “addicts” or “substance abusers.”

     The researchers did not discount the fact that conscious bias against persons with addiction — for example, how involved one would want to be with the person described — is often based on personal negative experiences with “alcoholics” or “addicts.”  Family members, friends, co-workers have experienced pain and suffering from their connection to persons with alcohol or substance use disorders and a resistance to not just “calling them what they are” may be understandable.

      But, the researchers said, over time, adopting what they call person-first language (referring to a person with a heroin addiction rather than a heroin addict) — especially by public officials and the media — could help reduce the negative bias and stigma that keeps people from seeking and getting help for their disease.

       In 2017, prior to this study, the Associated Press, which publishes a style guide used by most news organizations, adopted a new policy on reporting on addiction. It recommends that news organizations avoid terms such as “addict” and “alcoholic” in favor of person-first language — someone with an alcohol or substance use disorder or someone who was using opioids addictively, rather than a substance abuser or former addict. Someone in recovery, rather than someone who is “clean.” Shift the blame from the person to the disease.

     This doesn’t excuse or absolve the person who is addicted from any damage he or she may have done, and it may be considerable. But it does provide an identity beyond the addiction and makes the road to recovery more navigable.

     Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News adopted a policy similar to AP’s.

      The concept is simple: A person should not be defined solely by his or her disease. When mental health professionals stopped referring to patients as schizophrenics, society started referring to people with schizophrenia. Similarly, there are people with diabetes today who once were labeled diabetics. It is often argued that alcoholism or addiction are different from other diseases because the person chooses to use the substance. But experience tells us no one chooses to become addicted and the nature of the disease is being unable to stop — or at least feeling that stopping is not possible. Negative labels can’t help.

       Government agencies have begun using the new language, referring to persons with alcohol use or substance use disorders rather then alcoholics or addicts. Some who have managed to face their addiction and overcome it have abandoned the anonymity of 12-step programs and identify themselves publicly as persons in recovery. The opioid crisis has spawned a program called Hope Not Handcuffs, which steers the person who is addicted to treatment rather than incarceration.

       An exception to the change in language is recognized for those who are in 12-Step programs who identify themselves as alcoholics or addicts at their meetings. These are people who don’t see the terms as negatives, but rather as an honest admission of a fact in their lives. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have been saying, “My name is xxxx, and I’m an alcoholic” at meetings for nearly 84 years. It’s tradition. There’s no stigma attached, but rather a common bond that holds out the hope there is something beyond being labeled a “drunken bum” or “hopeless addict.”

      The groups recommending the language change say this is not merely “political correctness,” as some have said. Lives are obviously still being ravaged by addiction. If something has to change in approaching the disease, there is a growing feeling that how we talk about it might be a good place to start.

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer. rjgaydos@gmail.com

‘Daddy Is an Idiot, but We Love Him’

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump and his happy family.

Donald Trump and his happy family.

“Daddy, to be honest, is an idiot. A lying SOB, too. A nasty drunk. As long as you praise him, he’s all smiles and charm. Disagree with him and he’s a bully, or worse. He likes to act like a big shot — ‘I’m the smartest guy at the office …,’ ‘the fastest runner …,’ ‘no one knows as much as me …’ ‘I really showed them …’ Yes, he’s somehow always late paying the bills, if he pays them at all, and he seems to owe a lot of people money. He’s not around much lately — busy I guess — but when he is he’s always telling us about how great it’s gonna be when we: a) get a bigger house; b) buy a new car; c) go on vacation; d) move away from this lousy neighborhood.

“We’re still waiting, but we know he’ll figure it out eventually because he’s Daddy and he said so. We love him.”

Welcome to another day in the life of a typical American family locked in the grip of massive dysfunction bordering on delusion. Actually, maybe they’ve already gone across the border.

Of course I’m talking about Trump. You know I’m talking about Trump. The only ones who don’t know I’m talking about Trump are members of the aforementioned family. The delusionals. They stuck with him before and they’re sticking with him now. He’s family. They’re stuck with each other. Hey, nobody’s perfect. “We gotta stick together or they’re gonna take away our jobs. Then our schools. Then our church. Then our kids. Then our guns. Then what’ll we do?”

“Don’t worry. Daddy will know.”

(But remember? Daddy’s an idiot.)

How do you survive in life when all your tools — morals, knowledge, social skills, sense of self, pride, compassion, ethics, economics, tolerance, honor, curiosity, courage, ambition, faith — have been conceived, nurtured and twisted in such a fashion that, although you know instinctively that up is not down, you agree with the head of the family anyway when he says otherwise and you defend him vigorously when others says he’s an idiot? To do otherwise, after all, is to admit your significant shortcomings in those areas and to invite the shame and ridicule you imagine you’ll receive for not recognizing reality. For not kicking Daddy out or leaving yourself.

That’s life with an abusive (often alcoholic) parent. Donald Trump’s America. The drug of choice in this case is applause, not alcohol, but the behavior is the same. Me, me, me. Predictably unpredictable. Trump’s diehard supporters are stuck with each other and with him — one, big, dysfunctional family, lies and betrayals notwithstanding. Indeed, to question Daddy is disloyal, to leave, a betrayal. And where would you go anyway? It is, after all, a scary world out there. Daddy said so. Many times.

Breaking away from any such family is no easy task. It’s who you are, after all, isn’t it? You and your brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and … Heck, it’s like daddy told you — it’s your brand. “Us against the world.”

Breaking away from the family of Trump — acknowledging that he is a fraud, rejecting the brand — would take enormous courage. First of all, it would mean admitting you have been wrong all this time to have placed your trust in a man with no moral compass, no sense of duty, no trace of compassion for the less fortunate, no regard for the truth and a total lack of interest in anything that does not feed his ego. (Get him a beer!) To admit that, one would have to be a fool, right?

Secondly, it would mean learning an entirely new set of life skills and placing your trust in people who believe pretty much the opposite of everything Daddy has told you. Talk about scary. Besides, how can you be sure those people aren’t lying, too.

“Everybody lies. Don’t believe what the media say. They all lie to make money. Daddy knows. He used to be on TV. He was great. At least Daddy has the guts to stand up to the liars and fight to get what we deserve. Maybe he hasn’t gotten it yet, but at least he’s trying. He’ll come through for us eventually. He has to, doesn’t he?”

Of course, there are 12-Step programs for people who grow up in this kind of ill-functioning, mis-functioning, dysfunctioning household with an unpredictable, abusive, addictive parent at the head. But one has to first admit there’s a problem before those programs can help. Then, one has to be willing to change — to break the chains of denial and dependence on the parent and learn to live one’s own life. To be honest with oneself.

Rather than being the act of a fool, it takes a lot of courage to say, “Daddy’s an idiot and if I keep depending on him, excusing his behavior, I’m going to wind up an idiot, too. I have to face reality.” Sometimes, it take an intervention or a profound spiritual experience, a moment of clarity, for this to happen. Both have been known to work miracles and either one would be acceptable right now.

In the meantime, the key for the rest of the more-functional families in the neighborhood is to continue to recognize that the family down the block has an addictive idiot for a Daddy and that to try to tell them so is to invite insanity into your home.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Look! Marijuana, LSD, Booze and Sex

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Pat Robertson ... wants to legalize marijuana

By Bob Gaydos

As Mitt Romney “root canals his way to the Republican nomination,” in the words of Time’s Joe Klein, I find it refreshing to look at some off-beat news stories that have nothing (so far as I can tell) to do with politics:

 

“LSD may help alcoholics stay off booze”

My immediate reaction to this headline I spotted on the web was, “No kidding.” Then it was, “Are you kidding me?” Followed by, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

It seems a couple of PhD’s from Harvard and the Norwegian University of Science went through data from old research on whether LSD could be effective in combating alcoholism and published an article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology saying, in essence, maybe. They said alcoholics given regular treatments of LSD were less likely to drink than those not given the hallucinogen, but the results seemed to be good for only three months. They suggested exploring weekly or monthly LSD treatments to counter this.

The story on the study noted that the reported success may have to do with the fact that LSD changes perception, with some patients saying they “felt they were given a new lease on life” and resolving not to drink. That’s what traditional recovery programs work for without the use of drugs.

The two authors of the scientific article wrote, “It is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked.”

Geez, I don’t know. I’m not a PhD or anything, but maybe it has to do with the fact that when alcoholics drink to avoid the troubles of this world, they don’t want to be transported to a make-believe universe in order to escape. Or maybe that some people don’t think being on a steady LSD trip is a suitable alternative to addiction.

But hey, if you’re hung up on using LSD because of all that bad press it got years ago, the authors say other psychedelics might also work. They suggested mescaline, for one. No one noted whether any of the data was from personal experience.

Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized

This story struck my fancy not so much for the message as the messenger. Pat Robertson? Really?

Really.

The 81-year-old religious broadcaster, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, evangelical host of “The 700 Club,” said on his TV show recently: “I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”

He also told The New York Times, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

Robertson said he’s never used marijuana and won’t crusade for legalization, but thinks the nation’s “war on drugs” has been a huge failure, costing taxpayers billons of dollars.

There has not been any rush to follow Robertson from other conservative political or religious groups, but he does have a sizable, loyal following, so he could influence future discussion on legalization of pot

Personally, I think Robertson on many occasions has been loopy. He seems stone cold sober on this one.

 

$2 million bail set for ’Madam Mom’

Wow, a real juicy sex story right here in the Hudson Valley. Anna Gristina, 44, of Monroe, was charged with one — note than, one — count of prostitution for allegedly running a high-end call-girl business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This has weird written all over it.

Start with the fact that Manhattan prosecutors appear to have come after the mother of four because she allegedly bragged, while under secret surveillance, of having police and wealthy clients protecting her and subsequently refused to give those name to prosecutors. They filed the one charge against her and a judge set $2 million bail, apparently assuming she had millions squirreled away to help her flee, even though he assigned her a court-appointed lawyer because she is indigent.

It goes on. Her real lawyer, who handles what he and she say are legitimate business dealings, offered to put up his $2.5 million Manhattan condo for her bail, because he says she’s penniless. She also apparently rescues pigs, who roam her Monroe property.

Now, somewhere buried in all this, I assume, is evidence of someone being hurt by something she has done, but I’m not finding it. If she indeed is running a call-girl business, matching willing females with willing and wealthy clients, she would be an entrepreneur in Nevada. You know, state’s rights and all that. This is not a sex slave ring story. Yes, Uncle Sam might want his cut of the action and, I would assume, if her alleged business were legal in New York, Gristina would pay her taxes or face the penalty. It’s only tax evasion now, if true, because a crime is alleged. A victimless crime. And because the prosecutors didn’t get to parade some big shots before the cameras.

 

Keep your nose out of our business

One for our fans of foreign news. In Egypt, al Nour, a conservative Islamist political party, expelled its parliamentarian, Anwar el-Balkimy, because he’d had a nose job. Some party members saw this as a sinful act. And you thought running against Rick Santorum was tough.

* * *

Comments on any of these stories are welcome and encouraged.

 bob@zestoforange.com