Feb 2017

Don’t Be Scared If You Have to Get an MRI

“Totally normal,” said my neurologist of the results of the MRI on my head. No worries.

I was afraid to get an MRI in the first place.

I got a crown last week, and that didn’t worry me — it’s my ninth. Breathe the gas and just chill for a while. No big deal. It’s almost sad when it’s over.

But I was afraid to get the MRI, because I’m slightly claustrophobic, and all I knew was that they’d put me in a big tube and then walk away.

How It Went

I didn’t have any dietary restrictions in advance. They didn’t inject me with anything. I was told to wear comfortable clothes with no metal — so I wore sweatpants, a T-shirt, and a sweatshirt. I was able to leave my rings (gold, two small diamonds) on.

Beforehand I did a three-sixty in front of a ferrous metal detector. Then I was led through the doors with the giant warnings about extremely powerful magnets.

I put in earplugs that the technician gave me, and then put on headphones. He asked me what music I’d like, and I replied, “80s. Bowie.” I lied down on the thing. There was a firm but not painful thing to hold my head still and give it something to rest on. Under the lower half of my legs was a foam thing that kept them elevated a little. It was comfortable.

He told me it would take about 20 minutes. He also gave me a bulb to hold onto and to squeeze as an alert, and he said they could pause the tests if needed.

Then he slid me in. The tube was more narrow than I expected. And for the first couple seconds I did feel panic rising a little bit, and I thought about squeezing the bulb — but I didn’t. I oriented myself and took some deep breaths.

I was staring up at the top of the tube (I was on my back), but there was this mirror contraption (two mirrors? hard to tell) that I was looking at, and so I was looking out through the end of the tube. What I was actually seeing was a nice, calm painting on the wall — a river and some trees — and I could see the length of my body and my feet, which were free of the tube. I told myself I could scramble out on my own if I had to.

The music started with a Bowie song — “Life on Mars.” Later there were songs by Talking Heads and similar bands. It was good to have music because I could note the passage of time that way. (I guess I was listening to a Pandora station or something similar.)

The machine was noisy, but I had plenty enough ear protection, and the different scans had different patterns. One scan near the end included a bit of vibration. The technician talked to me through the headphones a couple times to let me know how much time was remaining. I just kept my eyes on that painting the whole time.

I had no trouble being still, except when I had to swallow. I just did. It was otherwise comfortable. And I could have gone another 20 minutes, easy.

* * *

Of course, I’m lucky. I have very good insurance through Omni, and it paid for this. And, even luckier, the results were totally normal.

Hear that, world? The inside of my head is totally normal. I don’t mind feeling good about some good news for a change.

Update 4:15 pm: I’ve heard that not all MRIs are so nice. They might not have the mirrors and the music. In that case, well, I’m sorry. Just remember that they won’t forget you’re in there, and they’ll let you out at the end. Stay cool.

OmniOutliner Essentials

Omni introduces OmniOutliner Essentials:

We didn’t want to just reach out to our existing audience; we wanted to introduce the joys and benefits of outlining to a much larger audience. We decided that meant two things: we needed to make the app much simpler, and we needed to make it much more affordable.

It’s in public preview now. You can check it out.

I’ve been the junior developer on the OmniOutliner team for a couple years, and it’s a joy to work on an app that I’ve loved for years as a user. We’re not finished yet with this release, but I’m very happy with how it’s turning out.

PS I like that Ken mentions MORE in the blog post:

We shipped the first beta of OmniOutliner while Mac OS X was still in beta, and doing so introduced us to a passionate community of outliners who had been using great outlining tools like MORE for over a decade.

MORE was by Living Videotext, which was Dave Winer’s company. Later I went to work at Dave’s company UserLand Software, which also included an outliner in its app Frontier, which I worked on. So there is a sort-of family tree connection from OmniOutliner back to MORE.

How Trump’s Support Erodes

Even Trump’s supporters know he’s not a good and competent man — nevertheless, they think they can get what they want from him. It’s a cynical deal, and bad, but you can understand it.

Trump’s vagueness and flip-flops, and the suggestion that he not be taken literally, all help him with this: his supporters, who don’t all want the same things, see what they want to see.

Many Republicans wanted a corporatist to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court, so that decisions like Roe v. Wade could be over-turned and, especially, so that more decisions like Citizens United would be made. It’s likely they’ll get that with a Gorsuch confirmation, no matter how Democrats fight (and they should fight).

But beyond that, every time Trump actually does something specific — as opposed to just saying hard-to-pin-down things — he erodes some support.

For example: many Republicans — Vice President Pence perhaps foremost, along with the Christian Sharia — want to see LGBTQ protections rolled back. But other Republicans don’t, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reportedly managed to prevent (at least for now) an Executive Order to that effect.

Many Republicans support multilateral free trade (as do I), and in particular agreements that strengthen our ties in Asia as a balance against emerging Chinese power. Well, TPP is not going to happen, and the future of NAFTA is in question.

Many Republicans do not support a Muslim ban which would make our country less safe and demonstrate to the world that we are not the beacon of liberty we’ve claimed.

Many Republicans support a strong NATO alliance and consider Russia one of our biggest threats — but Trump doesn’t. The jettisoning of the post-war American peace in favor of allying with Russia in a clash of civilizations with Islam is not what every Republican wants to see. (What is the winning condition — or final solution — for that kind of clash?)

Not every Republican is willing to spend taxpayer billions on a big, beautiful wall. They all know that Mexico is not paying for it.

Yes, there are some supporters who’ve been happy with everything.

But with each specific move, or lack of move, more supporters learn they’re not going to get what they want, and they learn they’ll get some things they don’t want.

Trump campaigned as almost a Rorschach test, where a large-enough coalition could believe he was on their side. As he makes specific moves, elements of that coalition learn that he’s not.

And that’s how his support erodes — because once you realize he’s not on your side, all you have left to support is his narcissism, mendacity, cruelty, corruption, and incompetence.

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