It Ended Everything.

It's been a long time since I spoke of this.

Maybe I figured that now since everything's in the past that one of these days I'd be out of its shadow.

This sadly, is not the case.

In 2007, I was an Electronic Warfare technician in service with the United States Navy. I'd been stationed on an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer for the previous five years, and was just about done with my hitch. I'd been weighing options for shore duty, and since EW's had been combined with Cryptologic Technician (Technical), all kinds of exciting three-letter-agency shore duty billets had opened up - I was qualified since all of us had to be read in to TS/SCI.

I had a CI poly in 2005, and it went about as textbook as you can imagine. I stared straight ahead, did everything I was told, walked out as TS/SCI with a CI poly on my record.

When the time came to fight for orders, I managed to secure a billet in Aurora, Colorado working for a satellite branch of the NSA at Buckley AFB. The one hitch was that they liked to have a polygraph within 6 months of the servicemember reporting. Everything was set up for me to take the CI poly the day before I was to start my transfer - I even got schooling in Pensacola en-route, with a nice re-enlistment bonus. I was very much looking forward to the day that I'd leave the grey waters and dreary sea rotation of Norfolk behind me, and continue serving my country in a choice location.

That day would never come.

I wasn't the slightest bit worried about the second CI polygraph. I certainly wasn't a model sailor, but I was very good at my job. I made E-6 in less than six years, and you don't do that with charm. I knew my rating inside and out, and was very proud of my knowledge level. I was a recognized SIGINT and countermeasures expert on board, and that felt good. So when I walked into the NCIS polygraph facility for the second time, I expected to be in and out quicker than you know what.

Nothing felt odd during the tests. I answered all of the questions truthfully. (I have a very active brain, jumping from point to point to point constantly. Hard to focus sometimes, but when you're asked a question like this one, you answer directly. No confusion whatsoever.)

After the usual bank of control questions, they started with the CI material, which pretty much boiled down to one question, and it was one I'd answered before.

"Have you ever been involved in espionage or terrorism against the United States Government?"


I remember thinking about certain things after the examiner left. What my wife and I were going to have for dinner. Maybe I should take the dog for a walk tonight, I haven't done that in a while. Should I take my guitar down to Florida with me for school? I get lonesome without it.

The man returned.

"You've failed a portion of your polygraph exam."

Bewilderment. Denial. Confusion. There must be some kind of mistake.

"I don't understand. What do you mean?"

"Your readings showed that when you were asked if you were involved in espionage or terrorism against the U.S. Government, your answer showed deception."

What the hell do you say to something like that?

Do you stand up out of your chair in a huff, and angrily berate the questioner for daring to question your devotion to your country?

I didn't. I meekly sat there, and my technician's nature took over in my mind. There's got to be some physiological reason why this happened. Something's wrong with me, because I KNOW the answer to that question is NO. What could it be?

He tested me again a few minutes later. I failed again. There was no calming me down after that. I was thinking of extraordinary renditions, being arrested on the spot, disappearing and never being able to speak to my wife again. You could ask me what color the sky is at that point and I'd been so shaken up by this experience I'd question my own answer.

The first polygraph examiner left, and about thirty minutes later another NCIS officer came in, this one an agent.

He held in his hands a paper for me to sign. It was the Miranda warning, with my name right at the top just above "SUSPICION OF ESPIONAGE/TERRORISM."

I wanted to scream, but didn't. I wanted to throw up, but couldn't. What the hell was wrong with me? I'd passed this goddamned test before.

Next came a long talk with this agent, and I did everything I could to explain who I was, and why I had never done this sort of thing. I still had faith in the system, and was worried about my career. I knew I had nothing to hide, so I went along with everything.

He decided it was best that they send a team of agents to search my house. That very evening. I wasn't allowed to call my wife, and I was at this point about ten hours late coming home. It was damn near midnight.

I showed up with three NCIS agents in tow. They tossed my car, rifled through my belongings in my apartment, took every single unlabeled notebook, every blank diskette, every CD-R, every data-storage capable piece of equipment I owned. My computer was taken, as were my wife's iPod. Mine too.

I came back the next day at their insistence and took a grueling battery of several successive tests administered by a somewhat friendlier polygraph adminstrator. He told me right off the bat that he didn't think I was a spy, he just needed to clear some things up. So, he asked me a long series of questions relating to personal honesty...everything was leading up to this question:

"Do you think you're better than other people?"

After the polygraph was done (how long had it been? Six hours? I really don't remember) I remember the test administrator looking really pleased with himself, saying that this was 'good work.' I didn't know what that meant at the time, and still don't.

At this point, I was still naively thinking that this was all a huge misunderstanding, and it would be cleared up in a matter of days. This is NCIS, right? How long does it take to scan a computer for classified information?

I'd given a statement earlier. In my shaken state, I wrote down an approximation of everything I'd said and felt...but the damage was done. The leading questions, the repeating back of my statements out of context - I had been shaken down prior, and boy did it ever work. I was beginning to think of myself as the kind of person who would sell out his country, or inevitably do so eventually. I couldn't think of a reason why I would do it, it was just in my nature. After all, an honest person wouldn't have failed such an easy question.

I lost the orders. My clearance was suspended.

For months on end, I mustered every day with the temporary holding personnel unit. I was a First Class Petty Officer, Surface-Warfare qualified, knew the electronic order of battle of any part of the world you care to name, and I was pushing brooms around a p-way, or volunteering at a USO kitchen a few days a week.

Every few weeks for the first two months, I'd get called into NCIS' Norfolk activity for long interview sessions. They were interrogations. My own statements were read back to me, asking me to explain each successive thing in more forceful detail every time. I didn't know what to say after a while. I didn't know if I needed to get angry, maybe cry a little - I was running out of ways to say "I have never attempted to steal or sell classified information, and I have no idea how to tell you that any clearer than I am now."

Yeah, I talked to a JAG representative. He told me I was on my own. I wasn't sure if I could afford a lawyer, so I just waited for the system to do its thing.

That takes a while sometimes.

I knew that they didn't have any conclusive physical evidence that any theft ever took place, or I would have been formally charged much sooner. What the hell did they have on me? Statements taken under psychological and emotional distress? My polygraph exams? I had an old hard metal camera case that I'd taken from the ship just prior to INSURV one year. INSURV is the mother of all inspections, and a lot of unneccessary stuff gets jettisoned. It was a nice one, for the old bridge camera which had since gone missing. My wife is a shutterbug, and I figured better for her to use it than it wind up on the bottom of the Atlantic.

Still, they never asked me about that case, or any other physical evidence.

Months went by with no word whatsoever. My end-of-obligated service term was fast approaching, and I had a decision to make. Re-enlist in this holding pattern? For what? No guarantees on anything - I still wasn't out of the woods yet. Clearance suspended - what would I do? I'd have to cross-rate to an uncleared job and probably go back to sea. I wasn't going to do that again. Not after I spent far too long waving goodbye to my wife the first time around.

It became about cost-benefit analysis. My school and enlistment bonuses were gone. There was no career security. There was no reason for me to stay, aside from the pride of wearing the uniform. I busted my ass and did the best I could for my country for six years, and this is what happens?

I made the decision to leave the service at the end of my enlistment in January 2008.

The guys at NCIS were flabbergasted. They said it looked like I was 'running.' Maybe they were right. I didn't care anymore. I was sick and tired of sitting across from two people who were doing their damndest to convince me that I planned to sell out my country at some point, or laid the groundwork for such a plan. I told them one point about counter-intelligence and 'thinking like the wolf.' That was repeated back to me as 'my plan.' I stopped short of admitting to just 'planning to steal stuff' so the interrogations would stop and I would have some kind of resolution. I couldn't do it.

At the end of the day, and after everything they put me through, I still knew what side of the line I was on. I'd rather leave the service with my honor intact than cop to something I didn't do in a moment of weakness, just so the unpleasantness would cease.

In the end, I was allowed to leave. The good thing about being on legal hold for months on end is that you accrue an awful lot of unused leave days. My CO approved 60 days terminal. By the way, my command naturally revoked my access to everything right after the poly fail - I was treated like a pariah for the first month...but then my XO started having as much trouble as I was getting information out of them. That pissed her off. By the end of the ordeal, they were in my corner as much as could be expected, and I'm thankful for that.

So, I packed up, signed out, and headed for home. I got a job as a broadcast engineer, which isn't too bad. It's not tracking suspect merchant shipping, but it'll do. My sixty days of terminal leave made for two months of double-dipping which helped offset getting set up back home.

I didn't receive my seized property until several months after I was out of the service.

The only information I was ever able to get about what was going on all that time was this: The agent assigned to me was recalled to the Coast Guard for a few months, and my file sat in his desk gathering dust until he got back.

In the end, I received an honorable discharge, which is the closest thing to vindication I will ever receive.

So there it is.

Funny...I expected more catharsis.

Why Can't We Play?

This is a good time for videogames. You could even argue it's pretty much the best ever. Visuals run with crispness and clarity and at resolutions we couldn't even fathom when we were scooting the Atari 2600's large colored boxes around the screen of our wood-grain Magnavox televisions. Sound isn't any longer an ear-piercing series of blips and squeaks. Writing and design have taken us to the point where many games are indisputably works of art in the incredibly rewarding way that is becoming the norm in game development. I remember fondly the sense of accomplishment and exhilaration as I scrambled out of High Charity or saved the Citadel from annihilation. I saw first-hand the awesome power of nuclear weaponry, unraveled mysteries reaching back to the dawn of recorded time itself, and recharted the course of evolution for an entire star system.

Yet, for all of these 'water cooler' events in my gaming history, few of them have the allure of sitting on the couch with my wife and plunging headlong into bloodthirsty throngs of fodder, looking to crack them open like loot pinatas for a tastier enchanted mace for her, maybe a beefier shield for me.

Sure, the Diablo formula of whack-smash-upgrade-rinse-repeat is dated. So is the idea of manipulating a digital football team. In Diablo's case, it has an allure that lasts and keeps gamers coming back for the next adventure, the next powerful magic spell, the next awesome suit of armor.

Current-generation videogame consoles have hundreds and hundreds of titles to choose from, and yet not a single one of the current iteration can match the fun of the loot-n-hacks of years past. I speak of course, of Baldur's Gate, Champions of Norrath, and Return to Arms.

I've heard 'co-op gaming' as being the latest buzzword in game design. Ask your friendly neighborhood videogame retailer for a good co-op game and you'll get directed to Gears of War 1/2, Left for Dead 1/2, the Halo series, and others similar to it. Every single one of these are quality, immersive games - with one problem.

Not everybody likes first-or even third-person shooters.

Yeah. I said it. It's true. A lot of people find dual-stick running and gunning to be disorienting and downright sickness-inducing. When my wife wasn't the slightest bit interested in playing Halo 3 with me, I didn't get it at all. Nothing could be simpler to me - I've been crawling down digital hallways and splattering them with my enemies since before Wolfenstein 3D. But my wife cannot stand it. And you know what? She's not alone.

The kind of games I mentioned before - Two-player offline loot-n-hacks for 'couch co-op' are what got her interested in videogames again. (Well, that and Spyro the Dragon.) We'd squabble over items, discuss strategy, tackle the toughest of enemies and dungeons, and have an awesome time just being with each other and doing something that we enjoy.

So why, five years after the release of Champions: Return to Arms for the Playstation 2, can this experience not be found on current-generation systems?

Sure, there's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 - which is an awesome game. However, you're essentially locked into playing one of a team of superheroes, you're not creating a character and affecting his appearance through the armor/weapons you find.

And oh yes, there's Fable II. My wife and I both enjoyed creating characters and playing through its rich and expansive world. We didn't enjoy that to experience it together required the use of a ham-fisted two-player system that wouldn't even let you import your own character model into the game.

It's like a cohesive and enjoyable two-player couch coop system for these types of games died with the exit of Snowblind Studios from the genre. They're making dinky tank artillery games now. Sad, really.

So when I heard about Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, I was excited. Could this be the return of the gameplay experience I'd been missing? Would the processing power of the Xbox 360 deliver fantastic high-res character models and particle-laden spell effects? Can it take that tried-and-true pastime that my wife and I both shared once and take it to the next level with HD visuals, thousands of items, and an engrossing story?


Ascaron's game didn't survive five minutes in my XBOX. My wife and I groaned simultaneously at the clunky non-intuitive menu and upgrade system, the horribly glitchy visuals, the atrocious voice acting, and the overall unplayableness of the whole damned thing.

It looks like exactly what it is: an unbelievably shoddy port of a one-player MMORPG front-end title that probably works passably on a PC, but fails miserably on a console system. The 'couch-coop' mode was most likely slapped on as a damned afterthought, and it shows. There's no simultaneous inventory management for starters, and it just goes downhill from there.

There are some games that make me think, 'this seems intimidating right now but I'll get the hang of it.' Not this one. It feels like a literal slap in the face to those of us who enjoy sitting on the couch and tackling dungeons with a friend.

So, in summary, if you want a good local multiplayer experience with good gameplay, pick up any of the LEGO series of games, or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 1 or 2.

If you want this experience in a well-designed fantasy setting that builds on the gameplay greatness of titles past, you are shit out of luck.

I'm only left with one question, which I direct as a challenge to videogame developers everywhere: If I want a quality Diablo-style game designed with two-player action as its focal point, why in the hell do I have to look backwards? Certainly system limitations aren't the issue here - it's outright laziness and ignoring gamers like my wife and I. We're out here, and we've got money to spend. Build on the success of the classic dungeon crawls of the past instead of giving us a half-assed barely functioning PC port and I will give you money.

Even though the Everquest universe has essentially been murdered outright by World of Warcraft, it shouldn't be too hard to find a fantasy universe to draw inspiration from.

I can't be in the minority here. Has 'couch co-op' gaming become the sole purview of the Wii? Oh well. At least with the Wii and a few Gamecube controllers, I can play Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, which is still light years beyond Sacred 2.

Assassin's Creed II

Ubisoft Montreal
Windows, X360, PS3
ESRB Rating: Mature

In a word: Stunning.

It really does improve on the original in every single conceivable way.


Like the last game, you play as Desmond Miles, a descendant of the ancient Assassin order which is engaged in a millenia-long struggle against the Knights Templar. You are unraveling a mystery by tapping into the "genetic memory" of your ancestors using a McGuffin Machine called the "Animus." I'd like to think the PlayStation will look like this in ten years. The story could have easily come from the mind of Dan Brown. What makes for half-baked pulp novelry also makes for an excellent premise for a video game. Using the Animus machine, you'll relive the memories of Ezio Auditore di Firenze, one of Desmond's ancestors living in 1400's Italy. You'll rub shoulders with Medicis, assassinate Pazzi's, get gadgetry made by Leonardo Da Vinci, and generally be immersed in the rich history of the time. Like Dan Brown, the history here is a little murky, but mostly true to source - although it does serve to advance the farfetched videogame plot for the most part. Still, it's a rich premise for a videogame, captivating and original. Part Matrix, part Deus Ex, part Angels and Demons...this is good stuff for gamers. It's much better writing than we're used to, but even that's getting better all around. Videogames are really coming into their own as unique player-driven storytelling media, and this is amongst the best of the field writing-wise.


Out of the park. Ezio's character model is very well done. The Venetian architecture is on full glorious display here. The palette is somewhat muddy, but consider the source material. Draw distance is very respectable, no texture pop-in noted. Shading and shadows are top-notch. Special recognition for the cutscenes, and the facial animations/body language. It rivals and in some cases exceeds Mass Effect in the realism. Ubisoft obviously spent a lot of time in addressing the inherent Uncanny Valley problems with eliciting emotional responses from CG characters. It works extremely well, and is quite immersive. This is a violent game, too. I don't know if you disable the blood (haven't checked.) Assassination kills involve a lot of neck-stabbing and the arterial spray that comes with it. Oddly enough, I don't think turning off the blood would kill the game for anyone that wanted to experience it. On the downside, ragdoll physics can cause environment collision sometimes, and your sword magically pierces through a bench if you sit on it. Doesn't look like any developer's gotten that perfect yet, and it really doesn't take away from the experience anyhow.


Stellar. The voice acting is fantastic. Unless you understand quite a bit of Italian, I'd recommend leaving on the subtitles. The characters jump back and forth between English and Italian - leave on the titles if for no other reason than to pick up a few choice Italian curses. Soundtrack is very well done, unintrusive and adds to the experience quite effectively. When you're chased by guards or confront them, it changes appropriately.


There are a few core components to this game, all of which are immersive and quite fun. The free-running portion is quite addictive, and it's a joy just to haul ass across the rooftops of Florence or Tuscany with no particular destination. When you run into a surface with a sharp angle change, Ezio can get confused and fall 20 feet to an injury instead of gingerly changing direction. For the most part, you can avoid this if you plan your freerunning path a few seconds ahead of where you are. This is fun.
Assassinations work about like they did in the last game, but they've added some context-sensitive moves that you'd expect a sneaky bastard like Ezio to use, like shanking from concealment in a pile of hay, from the other side of a ledge, or even underwater. A particularly satisfying addition is a second hidden blade, enabling you to assassinate two unwary targets at the same time. Double Prizes!!!!
Open combat mechanics are largely unchanged, but they've beefed up the unarmed portion to allow disarms and utilization of the opponent's weapon. This is a must when you come up against heavily armored foes, and is cool as all hell when you wrench a sledgehammer from a heavily armed Templar and then proceed to crush his legs with it. These animations are freaking sweet. Medieval reenactors take note: these are beautifully captured Western martial arts moves at their best.
This title adds some RPG-lite and collecting elements as well. You have a palatial estate that you upgrade through buying fine art (which is later displayed) upgrading the town to encourage tourism, and all of it feeds a continual income and simple economy system. More money means more sets of armor, more weapons, more fun stuff, more courtesans you can hire. YES! The cool thing about collecting weapons and armor is that it's displayed in your estate later along with all of your other trophies. Your mansion is littered with stuff to upgrade, and these upgrades have tangible gameplay benefits. This is SO much better than the mindless 'fetch the flag' quests of AC1. It's perfectly okay to blow off the main quest and upgrade your digs. It's what I'm doing.


Assassin's Creed 1 turned a few heads when it was released, but was largely written off as an ambitious tech demo. Ubisoft listened to gamer feedback, and have really pinned down what keeps a player coming back. This title is stunning to behold, a joy to look at - and is littered with secrets and unlockables. It's puzzles upon puzzles upon enigmas, and they all serve to either upgrade your character or to advance the narrative. You'll see what I mean when you "unlock" your first hidden glyph. You're going to do it, because no X360 or PS3 gamer should go without playing this game.

Run across the rooftops, assassinate people in line before you if you must, but get your hands on this game as soon as possible.

Four and a Half out of Five Donuts. Damn Near Perfect.

Thoughts on the Ft. Hood Tragedy

My condolences to all touched by this outrage. I'm pretty sure I know what the Army's countermeasure against this sort of thing happening in the future is going to be, and it's going to be sadly ineffective.

I'm usually able to come up with a long a reasonably well-thought out post, but this hits way too close to me.

I really have no words to quantify the way this whole goddamned thing makes me feel, but here's an attempt.

You never think of this on a base. Ever.

A military base is a lot of things. It's that thing you dread getting up and going to every day. You're stuck in traffic behind the one gate out of five they have open because of RAM (random anti-terrorist measures) screaming at the gate guards to get the freaking lead out, otherwise you'll be late.

It's that place you spend from 0530-knockoff jaunting around base for parts you probably don't need, shots you'd rather not get, training you've had a thousand times before.

It's also the place where you see your loved ones after long periods of separation. It's setting foot on American soil and looking into those eyes you've thought about every day for months. It's throwing the lines to the pier, the ramp of a transport bird hitting the tarmac, the opening of a bus door while your ears fill with John Phillips Sousa and all that.

It's that place where in a single moment you're able to drop everything you've been carrying mentally for months and months. You don't have to draw a gun on every strange sound in the night (though you probably will.) You don't have to throw your boots on and scramble for flash gear ready to fight a mainspace fire every time you hear something beep (though you probably will.)

In that single moment, no amount of "welcome home" speeches from high-ranking officers, no amount of TV cameras in your face, nothing can say welcome home like seeing the faces of your family and knowing that at least for now - it's over.

In that single moment, that base you hate to drive to every day becomes the greatest place on the face of the earth.

In another single moment, Malik Nadal Hasan shattered that place.

Military bases are supposed to be safe, but not by force of arms - by strength of brotherhood. We get in our arguments and our squabbles like anyone else but at the end of the day, we are brothers and will jump into the maw of Hell itself to pull our fellows out. Nothing special or heroic to it - that's just what we do.

In another single moment, Malik Nadal Hasan walked into a place made safe by strength of that brotherhood and violated its trust and caused the blood of his brothers to be spilled.

And for what? Madness? Fear of danger? Some sense of religious conviction?

I don't think a single answer exists, nor does it matter.

The Army will soldier on, the Navy will continue sailing, the Air Force will keep the skies clear, and the Marines will still be Marines.

But that brotherhood I spoke of has been weakened considerably. Muslim soldiers will notice hushed whispers where before there weren't so many. There'll be slides, and Powerpoint, and training, and a saturation bombing approach to a smaller-scale problem. All of this will happen because the Army has to do something, anything when things like this occur, so they can say they did.

Hasan may be worth more alive from an intelligence and psychology standpoint, but it's far more than he deserves. He'll get to live and get the attention he desperately wants. He won't get deployed, and he won't get the death sentence. There'll be outpourings of support in Fundamentalist Muslim countries.

The man's going to be a hero to the violently disenfranchised and the misunderstood lunatic.

The Army cannot "train" their way out of this problem.

But that is a problem for the brass, troops. Those of you who still wear the uniform, do what you always do. Head up, powder dry, scan 360, and most importantly - take care of your own.

Hug your kids extra tight, brothers and sisters.

Our bases may be safe from a gate-crashing truck bomb, but they will never be safe from madness.

Progress! Victory! SPARTAAAAAA!!!

Had my followup appointment at the Oklahoma Heart Institute recently.

Here's what's happened since quitting smoking, getting running shoes, and generally kicking that crap out of myself with interval training:

My BP in the doctor's office was 140/90. I'm pretty sure that I get the "white coat" hypertension, and I had an Accounting exam later that evening, so this number has got to be elevated from stress.

What this means is that I've taken my hypertension and front-kicked the sh*t out of it. Like, BAM!


I'm not going to let up. I'm going to get my 5k time under 20 minutes, and in the spring I'll be returning to the world of martial arts, this time in Judo. I can't wait to get slammed, choked, pinned, and generally whooped up on.

Something That Makes Me Nauseous.

Affliction or Ed Hardy T-Shirts.

"How are we supposed to get laid when every other douche in this place is wearing the same thing?"

A person wearing them is advertising one of the following, listed by percent of likelihood:

55%: "I am a slavishly trend-following and unoriginal douchebag."
20%: "Midlife Crisis. Seriously, brah."
20%: "I took the free introductory lesson at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. Now I'm a man-mountain of badass. My distressed flaming skull pattern is proof I am unstoppable."
4.9%: "I'll buy anything at unreasonably high prices."
.00001%: "I am a professional mixed martial artist with an endorsement deal from Affliction."

I'll admit, I wore some pretty hideous shirts back in the day. Time was, if it was oversized and covered in kanji, reflective characters, or wide-eyed samurai drawings, I'd wear it. Somebody should have punched me and told me how ridiculous I looked. I grew out of it, thankfully. In my defense, even at my height of clothing-based social expression I wasn't bankrupting myself on overpriced schlock like these guys are wearing.

It's important to differentiate between Ed Hardy and Affliction, even though they are basically the head and tail of the douchebag coin. Both of them appeal to a groupthink mentality, and are designed to slap you in the face with enough distressed graphics and tattoo flash (shamelessly stolen from the master himself, Sailor Jerry) to kill a charging bull moose. The first time I saw some 27-year old hipster strutting around in one of these Ed Hardy monstrosities, I nearly expired from a combination epilepsy/laughter fit. +15 Douche Points if you wear a matching trucker hat.

Affliction wearers are the guys that were wearing TapOut t-shirts a few years ago. Now, they've either landed a steady gig at Orange Julius, Express Men, or they're old enough to access their trust fund and now desire a higher class of clothing. Rather than go with quality manufacture and classic mature trends, they've opted to to wear something that looks like a tattoo artist just vomited all over a smock, but not before putting some random MMA fighter's name in Olde English lettering on it.

Take a memo, gentlemen. You don't look intimidating. As a matter of fact, the only person that does whilst wearing an Affliction shirt is Randy Couture. And let's face it, that guy would look scary as hell wearing a poodle skirt.

"I'm gonna choke the shit out of the Renaissance Faire." Man!!!

*insert crunchy riff here*

I had my first MRI today. I found the experience to be pretty enjoyable actually. I'm fairly certain they were taking an angiogram, considering my circulation is suspect.
For those that don't know the backstory, I was recently diagnosed with Stage Two Hypertension. This is odd because I'm 29, 5'6, 145lb and not exactly sedentary. At any rate, this has inspired me to quit smoking once and for all, get back into cardio training, and make some serious but necessary changes in my life. Hooray for me.
So, wearing a pair of scrubs, I had an IV needle placed in my arm by a kindly young gentleman who may have just inspired me to go into the field of medical imaging myself. I was then laid on the "bed" portion, and then noticed a nice serene oceanside scene to look at before I was loaded into the superpowered magnetic torus.
Overall impressions? Not bad at all. I'm former USN, so claustrophobia is a non-issue. I could have taken a nap in that thing no sweat. I did have headphones on, which helped somewhat. Local classic rock station. Good stuff. The guy even gave me a blanket for the experience, which had been WARMED UP to the kind of fabric temperature that makes you think of hot apple cider, Christmas morning and biscuits in the oven. That part was awesome.
The most interesting part was the first pass after a gadolinium-based contrast enhancing agent was injected through the IV and into my bloodstream. It was a slow and rolling wave of icy, but not painful, cold that crept up my arm and shoulder and into my neck. As the first imaging pass ensued, I could feel a reaction in my soft the underside of my tounge had a subcutaneal sparkler firework going off. Pretty cool.
I'm going to try to get an animated loop of my MRI results to share if I can.