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BSB news For Week #30, May 22 2023

2023.05.28 10:50 cheaptissueburlap BSB news For Week #30, May 22 2023

WEEK #30 is here, been doing this for a while now, always appreciating engagement on these!
What happened last week?

What to watch for next week?

Canadian news For Week #30, May 22 2023


CAE announces Vienna, Austria as the location for its new business aviation training centre in Central Europe - CAE.to
is expanding its global network to Central Europe with a new business aviation training centre in Vienna, Austria, scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2024. In addition, CAE will deploy the first Bombardier Global 7500 full-flight simulator (FFS) in Europe, making pilot training on this popular aircraft type more accessible and convenient for operators in the region.
CAE will initially operate six state-of the-art FFSs in Vienna, including the Global 7500, a Global 6000 Vision, and four yet-to-be-announced FFSs for business jets from leading manufacturers. The new 8,000-square-metre facility will have space for expansion with a capacity for up to nine FFSs and will be purpose-built to deliver the most advanced pilot training experience in Central Europe.


Bird Awarded BC Ferries' Maintenance Facility Redevelopment - BDT.to
announce that it has been awarded a contract for the Fleet Maintenance Unit (FMU) Redevelopment Project for BC Ferries.
The FMU Redevelopment Project aims to revitalize BC Ferries' existing facility situated in Richmond, British Columbia, enhancing its capabilities and increasing its capacity to meet the demands of BC Ferries' operational needs. The FMU facility currently handles a substantial portion of the maintenance, repair, and upgrades for BC Ferries' 39-vessel fleet.

Intermap Powers Telecom Network Planning - IMP.v
announced a contract with RKF Engineering Solutions, LLC (“RKF”) to supply NEXTMap® 3D elevation data through its cloud-based elevation data as a service subscription for telecommunications network planning.
RKF develops innovative engineering solutions for communication networks and satellite systems and provides critical analysis to enable spectrum reuse. RKF is integrating Intermap’s cloud-based services for 3D elevation and land classification data to conduct precision signal analysis for locations around the world. Intermap’s cloud-based solutions offer users rapid and easy-to-use online access to NEXTMap global terrain datasets that integrate into third-party software applications.


CAE and Endeavor Air celebrate major expansion to Minneapolis-St. Paul training centre - CAE.to
today inaugurated their expanded training centre in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. The training centre recently underwent a 50,000 square-foot expansion to make space for Endeavor's Flight Operations and Inflight Training departments and three additional CRJ full-flight simulators (FFS) that will allow Endeavor Air to consolidate all its pilot and cabin crew training, which previously took place in multiple locations, at the state-of-the-art centre in Minneapolis-St. Paul. With this expansion, the facility is now the largest CRJ training facility in the world.
Endeavor Air anticipates that approximately 2,000 pilots will visit the Endeavor Air Learning Center at CAE each year for training. Currently 120 instructors support the flight operations training program and 16 instructors support the flight attendant training program. Between 2,000 and 2,300 flight attendants will come through the facility for both new-hire and annual recurrent training each year.

SolarBank Reaches Commercial Operation on BTM Solar Project in New York and Provides Update on Pipeline of Projects in Progress - SUNN.to
is ‎pleased to provide shareholders a update on its pipeline of projects, headlined by achieving commercial operation on a 195-kilowatt DC behind-the-meter ("BTM") solar system located in Syracuse, New York for Honeywell International ("Honeywell"). The project is the latest completed for Honeywell in New York, a key U.S. market for SolarBank. Presently, SolarBank is developing nine additional solar projects in New York, totaling 80 Megawatts of potential future capacity ("MWp"). Mobilization is underway and construction has begun on a 3MW potential capacity brownfield project in Geddes, NY. In

BQE Water Completes Performance Test for Plant that Simultaneously Removes Sulphate and Selenium at a US Mine - BQE.v
has successfully completed the performance test of the first industrial scale water treatment plant combining nanofiltration with electroreduction to simultaneously remove sulphate and selenium from mine contact water at a mine in the US.
Operating intermittently as determined by site water levels, the plant treats a mix of tailings seepage and mine contact water to produce treated effluent fully compliant with site requirements. This includes selenium below 2 ppb and sulphate below 950 ppm to ensure that conditions for passing bioassays are met. By-products of treatment are a solid gypsum and stable non-hazardous iron oxide-selenium residue suitable for onsite disposal.

Nextech3D.ai Game-Changing Generative-AI CAD 3D Design Studio Toggle3D.ai Primed For $7 Million June IPO - NTAR.v
announce the eagerly anticipated spin-off of Toggle3D.ai. The expected trade date for Toggle3D.ai (CSE:TGGL) is June 13, 2023 (subject to approvals) of the Canadian Securities Exchange. Nextech shareholders of record will be issued an exclusive dividend of 4,000,000 newly issued shares in the revolutionary Toggle3D.ai, on a pro-rata basis.
Toggle3D.ai is a groundbreaking SaaS solution that utilizes generative AI to convert CAD files, apply stunning 4K texturing, and enable seamless publishing of superior 4K 3D models, serving various industries within the $160 billion CGI market. With its Augmented Reality-based rapid prototyping web app, Toggle3D.ai empowers designers, artists, marketers, and eCommerce owners to effortlessly convert, texture, customize, and publish high-quality 3D models and experiences, regardless of technical or 3D design expertise.

Polaris Renewable Energy Announces Signing of 25 MW (AC) Power Purchase Agreement for Solar Project Canoa II - PIF.to
announce that we have signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in the Dominican Republic for Canoa II. The Canoa II solar project is adjacent to the already operational 25MW Canoa I, which was acquired by the Company in July of 2022, and is inthe Province of Canoa, Municipality of Barahona, Dominican Republic. Polaris owns 100% of the project.
Particulars related to the Canoa II PPA and project are:
15-year PPA denominated in US$ of $82.35 per MWh;
Such PPA has an annual inflator for 5 years post initial commencement, equivalent to approximately 16% of the US Consumer Price Index, at which point the price remains fixed until the end of the 15-year term;
Estimated completion of construction in the third quarter of 2024;

Bee Vectoring Technologies Receives Largest Order to Date from a Major Multi-State Berry Grower in the United States - BEE.v
Announce a company record-breaking sales order with one of the largest blueberry growers in the United States, who will integrate BVT's proprietary Vectorite with CR-7 (Clonostachys rosea CR-7) biological fungicide and natural precision agriculture system on their blueberry operations in the upcoming growing season in the Pacific Northwest.
"This new customer is an enterprise-sized grower with large scale operations in multiple key growing regions and will be implementing the BVT system on over 500 acres of their operations spread across Washington and Oregon," said Ian Collinson, Sales Manager at BVT. "This significant development is a strong indication of the growing confidence growers have in the BVT system as most growers historically have tested with small acreages first before committing to such a large portion of their operations."


Edgewater Wireless Launches WiFi7 Spectrum Slicing Platform - YFI.v
announce its next-generation of Wi-Fi Spectrum Slicing powered silicon solutions targeting residential, enterprise and prosumer applications. Building on the latest Wi-Fi standard, WiFi7 (802.11BE), Edgewater’s groundbreaking platform offers more physical channel capacity than single-channel, legacy Wi-Fi architectures — bringing lower latency and reduced contention for existing and new devices. With ‘Beta’ Spectrum Slicing capable silicon now available for select partner evaluations, engineering samples of Edgewater’s WiFi7 silicon are targeted by the end of Q2 CY2024, with commercial products expected at the end of Q2 CY2025.

Coveo Services Now Available in the Amazon Web Service (AWS) Canada Region - CVO.to
announced that Canadian customers can now access the Coveo Relevance CloudTM on the AWS Canada (Central) Region.
By leveraging the AWS Canada (Central) Region, a cluster of several data centers located in Montreal, Coveo will enable customers with data residency preferences (regulatory, compliance or other) to securely store data in Canada. Local AWS infrastructure facilities mean that customers can do more in terms of running mission-critical applications that need the lowest possible latency, and benefit from more flexibility.

Solar Alliance continues to grow project backlog with five new projects totaling $1.1 million - SOLR.v
announce it has signed contracts for five solar projects in the Southeast U.S., ranging in size from 40 kilowatts (“kW”) to 113-kW.
The contracts include the design and installation of solar projects for a range of industries in Tennessee and Kentucky and have a combined capital cost of $1.1 million.
All of the projects are expected to be completed in 2023 and contribute to a backlog of contracted projects totaling $3.1 million.

BluMetric and Rheinmetall Canada to Deliver Self-Contained Water Purification Systems to Canadian Armed Forces - BLM.v
announce the award of a 3-year $11.7 million contract from Rheinmetall Canada.
BluMetric is teaming with Rheinmetall Canada, who is the prime contractor and an internationally recognized systems integrator, to develop and deliver small, self-contained water purification systems as part of a contract awarded by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This product, named the Advanced Sub-Unit Water Purification System (ASUWPS), will enhance the ability of the CAF to support missions by providing the capacity to purify water at the sub-unit level - providing potable water for 125-250 personnel. The ASUWPS are a smaller, lighter system than BluMetric's Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU), which BluMetric has been building and supporting for the CAF for the last ten years.



Good luck guys
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2023.05.27 19:25 englishconversation1 Savor Seafood Perfection and Breathtaking Views at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar: Sarasota's Premier Waterfront Gem

Savor Seafood Perfection and Breathtaking Views at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar: Sarasota's Premier Waterfront Gem
Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar, located in the heart of Sarasota, is a renowned waterfront dining establishment that captivates visitors with its stunning views and exquisite seafood offerings. As a premier destination in the city, phillippi creek Oyster Bar is a favorite among both locals and tourists, seeking an exceptional dining experience in Sarasota.
The restaurant's focus lies in its commitment to providing fresh seafood delicacies, ranging from a delightful variety of oysters, clams, and shrimp to classic dishes like crab cakes and fish and chips. Even for those with dietary restrictions, phillippi creek oyster bar offers an enticing selection of non-seafood options, including mouthwatering steak and chicken dishes, ensuring there is something for everyone. With every dish expertly prepared using the freshest ingredients available, guests are treated to a symphony of flavors with each bite.
The allure of Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar extends beyond its delectable cuisine. Situated along the waterfront, the restaurant's scenic location grants patrons panoramic views of the picturesque phillippi creek sarasota Bay. Whether enjoying an intimate dinner or a lively gathering with friends, the outdoor seating area provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable dining experiences. The indoor seating area, adorned with tasteful nautical-themed accents, emanates a warm and inviting ambiance, adding to the restaurant's charm.
Service at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar is nothing short of exceptional. The friendly and attentive staff members are dedicated to ensuring that every guest is treated to a memorable and enjoyable dining affair. From providing insightful menu recommendations to sharing fascinating tidbits about the restaurant's history, the staff goes above and beyond to cater to the needs and preferences of each visitor.
Overall, Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar stands as an essential destination for those seeking waterfront dining excellence in Sarasota. Its commitment to fresh seafood, coupled with its breathtaking location and outstanding service, has firmly established it as a beloved institution within the city. Whether a local resident or a curious traveler, a visit to phillippi creek restaurant Oyster Bar promises an unforgettable culinary journey. Visit here https://sarasotawaterfront.com/directories/phillippi-creek-oyster-bar-sarasota/ to know more details.
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2023.05.27 07:04 next3days Memorial Day Weekend Event Rundown....

For anyone in town who's looking for events to enjoy this Memorial Day Weekend and/or ceremonies to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, here's 28 local events you can enjoy and participate in.
1. 2023 Wilderness Road Bike Ride Bisset Park, Radford Saturday, May 27, 2023, 7:00 AM - TBD Youth Up To Age of 17: $40.00, Adults (age 18+): $50.00, Family of 3-5: $120.00 FCA Endurance SW Virginia presents the 32nd Annual Wilderness Road Ride titled "A Gran Fondo" starting and ending at Bisset Park's Shelter #2. The Wilderness Road Ride is a scenic and historical adventure through Southwest Virginia’s beautiful New River Valley, the ride follows part of Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road. This is a recreational ride for all cycling levels to enjoy, with something for everyone, five routes to choose from ranging from a 26 mile relaxed journey for novices, to a century challenge for the fittest cyclist. This is a great ride for cyclists of all ages and athletic abilities. The start will be a rolling start open from 7:00-8:00 AM. Riders may also gather in front of Bisset Park Shelter #2 at the starting line at a designated time for an optional group start time. Those who sign up for the century and 80 miler must leave no later than 7:30 AM. All pre-registered riders are guaranteed a technical t-shirt and other goodies. ANSI or Snell Certified helmets are required. Riders under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and riders under 8 years old must have permission from the event director. All proceeds will benefit FCA Endurance ministries and missions projects in Southwest Virginia. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707984
2. Used Book Sale Park United Methodist Church, Christiansburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM Price depends on book(s) purchased. Stop by for some summer reading. Hard cover, paperbacks and children's books will be available for purchase with something for everyone. Proceeds will support Park United Methodist Church's children's missions. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708111
3. Pearisburg Junior Woman's Club Junior Jamboree and Donut Dash Pearisburg Community & Recreation Center, Pearisburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Donut Dash: Children: $5.00, Adults: $15.00, Family Pack (2 Adults & Up to 4 Children): $40.00 Junior Jamboree Vendor & Craft Show Admission: Free The Pearisburg Junior Woman’s Club will be hosting the Junior Jamboree starting with the Donut Dash Day at 9:00 AM and the Junior Jamboree Vendor & Craft Show from 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Participants in the Donut Dash will stroll along the park trail with tasty donut stops along the way. They will make their way to the pavilion where gourmet donuts and coffee await along with a prize for each participant. At 11:00 AM, artists, crafters and food trucks will be set up on the lawn and in the gym of the community center. All proceeds from the event will help fund future community service projects through Pearisburg Junior Woman’s Club. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=697325
4. Music at the Villa with Stella Trudel Villa Appalaccia Winery, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 1:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free Relax and enjoy some great music along with great wine and food. Stella Trudel is a singer and songwriter who lives in Floyd, Virginia and winters in Canyon Lake, Texas. She is also the lead singer of the band Cocobolo. She loves to sing from the heart and consciously directs her attention and focus to music to see what will unfold. Kids and well-behaved dogs welcome. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707445
5. Jeff Levy in Concert Chateau Morrisette, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 1:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free Jeff Levy is a real country, old rock, bluegrass, Americana folk and gospel musician from Radford, VA. Food and non-alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase out of the Hut on Saturday and Sunday. Bringing seating is suggested as the tables fill up fast. Note: Music will cancel if there is inclement weather. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707485
6. 2023 Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad Open House Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, Blacksburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 1:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free The Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad presents their 2023 Open House on Saturday, May 27, 2023. See what we do, be social, have fun and enjoy some free food! Get a tour of Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad's ambulances and see some of the special equipment they carry during their technical rescue demonstrations while enjoying free food, cotton candy and face painting. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708076
7. Dark Blue Paradox and Dan Fox in Concert Buffalo Mountain Brewery, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 1:00 - 4:00 PM (Dark Blue Paradox) and 6:00 - 9:00 PM (Dan Fox) Admission: Free Buffalo Mountain Brewery presents Dark Blue Paradox in concert from 1:00-4:00 PM and Dan Fox performing from 6:00-9:00 PM. Dark Blue Paradox is an acoustic-electric duo hailing from Richmond, VA. Dan Fox is a singer and songwriter performing primarily acoustic guitar music including many favorites and originals from a wide variety of genres including folk, rock, country and Americana. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707884
8. Shawsville Ruritans 75th Anniversary Celebration and Ice Cream Social Meadowbrook Center, Shawsville Saturday, May 27, 2023, 2:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free The Shawsville Ruritan Club and Meadowbrook Museum presents the Shawsville Ruritan Club's 75th Anniversary Celebration and Ice Cream Social. In addition to free ice cream (complete with toppings), the celebration will feature a "Shawsville Ruritans Through the Years" exhibit curated by the Meadowbrook Museum and music from 1948 and the surrounding period. The Shawsville Ruritan Club was chartered in 1948, making it one of the oldest clubs in the nation. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708095
9. 2023 Youth Film Festival Lyric Theatre, Blacksburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30 PM Admission: Free Support young filmmakers, both international and local, as The Lyric showcases their films to the New River Valley. Admission is free with a free complimentary popcorn. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708100
10. Ash Devine in Concert Moon Hollow Brewing, Blacksburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 4:00 - 6:30 PM Admission: Free Award winning songwriter, folk rock musician, caring clown Ash Devine is based the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville North Carolina. Ash Devine’s folk Fusion style gleans sounds of Appalachian traditional folk, Americana-pop and classic rock. Ash Devine is an accomplished instrumentalist on finger-style and flat pick style guitar and innovative original ukulele picking style. Her breathy and rich vocals are captivating and cathartic, reminiscent of Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. Ash’s stage presence is dynamic, charismatic and steeped in audience connection and participation. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708091
11. The Salt Pond Pub Summer Kick-Off Party Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke Saturday, May 27, 2023, 5:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free Celebrate Summer at Mountain Lake Lodge and kick-off Memorial Day Weekend. Enjoy good food, live music from The Untrained Professionals, giveaways, and more. The Untrained Professionals are an acoustic music duo featuring Clinton Scott and Chris Huddle. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=697573
12. High Country Grass in Concert Wildwood Farms General Store, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 5:00 - 7:00 PM Admission: Free High Country Grass is a bluegrass band that was established in 2014 by founder Charles McMillian. The kitchen will be open until 6:00 PM with a limited menu. The concert will be held inside. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708114
13. Blue Phoenix in Concert Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free Blue Phoenix is a vibrant band based in Blacksburg, VA that brings together a powerhouse of talented musicians that take you on a musical journey that transcends genres and ignites your soul. From blues to classic rock, americana to jazz, and folk to country, Blue Phoenix masterfully blends these styles to create a unique sound that will keep you grooving all night long. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707873
14. Old Time Dance with The Crooked Road Ramblers Floyd Country Store, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 7:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: $12.00 The Crooked Road Ramblers are an old-time band from Southwest Virginia, steeped in the traditional music of the Blue Ridge. They have played at the Carter Family Fold, the Wayne Henderson Festival, HoustonFest, The Floyd Country Store & many other venues across Virginia and North Carolina. They have won 1st place in the old-time band category at the Ashe County, Alleghany County, Laurel Bloomery, Fries & Union Grove Fiddlers Convention in addition to a 2nd place finish at the Galax Fiddlers convention. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708079
15. Ian Vest in Concert The Mason Jar at Claytor Lake, Dublin Saturday, May 27, 2023, 7:30 - 10:30 PM Admission: Free Ian Vest is a Southwestern Virginia native, born and raised in rural Floyd County. Music has been his passion from a very young age: singing, learning to play several instruments, and performing in churches. Ian has a throwback style of country music that is reminiscent of those like George Strait and Randy Travis. His original songs are heavily influenced by the experiences in his life, faith in God, family, and pride of country. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707515
16. Timewave Zero in Concert Dogtown Roadhouse, Floyd Saturday, May 27, 2023, 8:00 - 11:00 PM Admission: $8.00 This group of all-star musicians hail from the New River Valley, up in the spine of the Appalachians where rock and blues meet to jam, where the mountains meet the sky and raise your spirits high, where psychedelic funk punch is just what’s for breakfast. Timewave Zero music drives crowds straight into the heart of the singularity connect today. With a band name inspired by Terrence Mckenna's i-Ching mathematics and eschatological explorations, TW0 is always at the ready for a live dance music adventure. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=697283
17. A Tribute To The Band's "The Last Waltz" Square 5 Public House, Blacksburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 8:00 - 11:00 PM Admission: Free Enjoy an evening of music from The Band and their historic 1976 farewell concert "The Last Waltz" featuring an all-star lineup of New River Valley musicians. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708092
18. Lost In Taste Cosmic Comedy Club Lost In Taste, Christiansburg Saturday, May 27, 2023, 9:30 - 11:30 PM Admission: $5.00 Enjoy a night of comedy hosted by Aayush Patodiya with featured comedians Andrew Gustafon, Katherine Rogue and Jordan B. and introducing comedians Garrett Brumfield and Taylor Reschka. For ages 18 and up. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708093
19. Sunday Mountain Music Series Kickoff with Ash Devine Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke Sunday, May 28, 2023, 4:00 - 6:00 PM Admission: Free Stop by Salt Pond Pub every Sunday starting Memorial Day weekend through Sunday, August 20th for live music and delicious food and drinks. Perfect for relaxing with the whole family (furry friends too). Award winning songwriter, folk rock musician, caring clown Ash Devine is based the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville North Carolina. Ash Devine’s folk Fusion style gleans sounds of Appalachian traditional folk, Americana-pop and classic rock. Ash Devine is an accomplished instrumentalist on finger-style and flat pick style guitar and innovative original ukulele picking style. Her breathy and rich vocals are captivating and cathartic, reminiscent of Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. Ash’s stage presence is dynamic, charismatic and steeped in audience connection and participation. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=697572
20. The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs in Concert Palisades Restaurant, Eggleston Sunday, May 28, 2023, 5:00 - 7:30 PM Admission: Free The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs are a folk(ish)/Americana group hailing from Winston-Salem, NC. Their influences range from Neil Young to Regina Spektor. Blending their unique musical sensibilities, the band seeks to craft an entertaining experience that has a little something for everyone. Reservations are not required, but recommended for dining area seating. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707368
21. 2023 The Murph Workout Challenge Blacksburg Fit Body Bootcamp, Blacksburg Monday, May 29, 2023, 8:00 - 9:30 AM Admission: Free Blacksburg Fit Body Boot Camp is an official host location of The Murph. The Murph is a challenging workout that builds confidence, camaraderie, and honor to all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Participants can participate in one of three options, the Full Murph, the Full Murph (scaled), or the Half Murph. This workout is about challenging yourself. You can modify the movements however you need to and break apart the total reps in several sets. There is no set time to finish, just the goal to finish. The Full Murph usually takes about one hour and the Half Murph about 30 minutes. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Murph foundation. This year, Blacksburg Fit Body Bootcamp will also be hosting a Kids Lil' Murh at 10:00 AM, open to all ages. The Lil Murph will be a 0.1 mile run, 10 push ups, 20 mountain climbers, 40 body weight squats, followed by another 0.1 mile run. Parents are welcome to participate alongside their child. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708113
22. 2023 Jimmyfest Memorial Day Cruise-In & Cook Out Jones Car Company, Shawsville Monday, May 29, 2023, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM Admission: Free Jones Car Company presents the 2nd Annual Jimmyfest Memorial Day Cruise-In and Cook Out to celebrate the life of James "Jimmy" Buriak. Classic cruisers, muscle cars, off road SUVs, lifted trucks, euro specialties, and everything in between is welcome. No entry fees or awards, this is just for fun. Jones Car Company will be providing free hot dogs, chips and non-alcoholic beverages. Donations will be gladly accepted for the AWS1 James Buriak Foundation. AWS1 James "Jimmy" Philip Buriak, USN, died 31 August 2021 in a Naval helicopter crash on the coast of San Diego, where he served as a naval aircrewman rescue swimmer (AWS) with HSC-8. The legacy of a hero is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. This foundation was created in the wake of Jimmy’s death as a way to honor him and his memory, but also keep his purpose alive – to help others. Jimmy was a Salem High School graduate. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708096
23. 2023 Memorial Day Ceremony Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery, Dublin Monday, May 29, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Admission: Free The public is invited and encouraged to attend this tribute to honor and remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Nation. The keynote speaker for the ceremony will be former Chief Master Sergeant of the US Air Force, Rodney McKinley (US Air Force, Retired). Members of the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Volunteers will place American flags on all graves prior to the ceremony. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708098
24. 2023 Radford Memorial Day Program Bisset Park, Radford Monday, May 29, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Admission: Free Radford VFW Post 776, American Legion Post 30, the NRV Marine Corps League, the Dublin-Radford Ruritan Club, the Radford News Journal, WRAD AM1460, and WPSK 107.1 presents the 2023 Radford Memorial Day Program. The ceremony includes a speech by the Radford Army Ammunition Plant Commander, a 21-gun salute and music. The Master of Ceremonies is Dana Jackson, the past Commander of American Legion Post 30. The program will serve to remember the veterans of all wars who have sacrificed to serve our country and also the families who have lost loved ones because of those sacrifices. The ceremony will be broadcast on radio across the WRAD Talk Network (101.7 103.5 and 1460 am) as well as streaming live. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708103
25. 2023 Memorial Day Cruise In and Car Show Narrows Fire Department, Narrows Monday, May 29, 2023, 12:00 - 3:00 PM Admission: Free The Narrows Memorial Day Committee presents the 2023 Memorial Day Cruise In and Car Show in the fire department parking lot. Vehicles of all types are welcome and will be on display. There will be a 50/50 raffle and food will be available for purchase. All vehicles are welcome and there is no entry fee for your vehicle to be included. Dash Plagues will be provided by Newberry Ford. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708101
26. Dedication Ceremony for the Field of Honor Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery, Radford Monday, May 29, 2023, 2:00 - 3:00 PM Admission: Free The Radford Noon Rotary Club presents the Dedication Ceremony for the Field of Honor on the grounds of Glencoe Mansion, Museum & Gallery. The event will be the official start of the Field of Honor display of American flags sponsored to honor heroes of all types from service members to individuals who have made an impact on someone’s life. The ceremony will include remarks from multiple members of the community. Master of Ceremonies Dr. Richard Harshberger will lead the program, which will include Mayor David Horton, Radford VFW Commander Gary Harris, Grace Episcopal Church Rector William Yagel, and Virginia Delegate Jason Ballard. A 21-gun salute will be provided by the Dublin American Legion Post 58. The Field of Honor is comprised of flags sponsored by members of the community, and the proceeds will benefit 14 organizations. Those groups include the Radford University Scholarships for Students from Radford High School, Vittles for Vets, the Women’s Resource Center, Beans and Rice and the Glencoe Mansion. The Field of Honor display will be on display from Memorial Day through the 4th of July. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708097
27. Music Road Co Trio in Concert Rock House Marina, Pulaski Monday, May 29, 2023, 2:00 - 5:00 PM Admission: Free Rock House Marina concludes their four-day 2023 Claytor Lake Music Festival featuring the Music Road Co. trio. Music Road Company is a Floyd, VA based band that plays a great music featuring elements of rock, funk, reggae and fun for your dancing and listening pleasure designed to groove and move you. Food will be available for purchase. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707887
28. 2023 Narrows Memorial Day Parade Downtown Narrows, Narrows Monday, May 29, 2023, 3:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free The annual Memorial Day Parade will feature floats, bands, cars, trucks, bikes, military & emergency vehicles and more. Following the parade, there will be a Hero's Dinners for all local doctors, nurses, EMTs, fire, rescue, veterans and active duty personnel / members and their families. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708102
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!
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2023.05.27 00:26 JulianSkies Blackriver Cases - Season 3 “Linked” - Episode Single “Hunter”

Season 3 “Linked”
Episode Single “Hunter”
“This is very irregular, you know?”
“And so is importing an extremely dangerous, viciously intelligent predator all the way from nightside to dayside.”
It had taken an entire paw for someone to finally arrive, and it felt disgusting the entire time. They didn’t have any real facilities for storing corpses, so they had to improvise by partially dismantling the interior of the breakroom’s fridge and messing with the settings. She had thought that she’d feel disgusted dealing with a corpse, but somehow that wasn’t it, it was that for some reason it felt wrong to store it like that.
And it took an entire paw for a necrologist to finally arrive. Of course they couldn’t do their forensics here, they’d need to transport it somewhere with proper facilities, and somewhere deep inside her she felt better about the cooled van they were going to use to transport the animal, it was certainly more respectful than a jury-rigged freezer.
“Guess he’s getting to you isn’t he?” Keya mutters to herself, finally having finished the handoff in the garage. Hopefully nothing like that would happen again anytime soon, or ever if possible. She makes her way back to the central administrative room of the precinct, passing by the armory as one always does on the way to the garage.
“This is just a game to you!” “And what do you know of fucking reality?!” “Nothing! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR YOU BRAHKIN APE!” it was curious why Marik even allowed Santos inside the armory if they were going to fight. Still, they might be a little more shouty right now but the stress of the previous mission must be getting to them, and in her knowledge they could sort themselves out soon.
She stops as soon as she enters the central room, it always distresses her lightly how this precinct didn’t even have a single office, she lets her mind sit on the idle thoughts about the everyday functions of her workplace as her tail thrashes uncertainly behind her. After all that stress it was difficult to get her emotions ordered enough to think straight, and the latest change to her nightmare didn’t help. She’d expected to see the nixa as her chaser, as it’d happen for a time every time she’d deal with something particularly dangerous, but instead it was at the very end, in Santos’ arms, as if the human had died trying to protect it. “I guess that was a positive change? Maybe?”
She shakes her head with enough force to draw some attention, then walks over to Lunek’s desk. He’d still be out of commission for a bit, the shoulder wounds could easily have cost the man his arms if they had taken even a fifth of a claw longer to get to the hospital, but thankfully muscular reconstruction was within their capacity and the wound sufficiently fresh they wouldn’t need to worry about nerve reconstruction. But there was something weird about his wife’s reaction to the news, she’d seen family being distressed at a wounded exterminator, but she seemed angry instead of scared or even worried.
Then, she walks over to Santos’ desk. He had given her permission to check his work, he’d been working on the animal database and had stuck to a string of old cases for a mysterious predator nicknamed ‘the black claw’, something that was incredibly elusive and had been killing even in the middle of the capital. Cases as old as the republic itself, in fact. Santos’ datapad had a map containing cases he’d decided were relevant, and a diagram of the wound patterns was also visible, thankfully no images of the wounds themselves but something about it was familiar.
But her thoughts about the human’s grisly cataloging were interrupted by said man’s guttural roar of fury and pain. The words that accompany the roar are so jumbled her translator can’t even recognize them and she doubts another human could either. Everyone present turns their attention to the door towards the armory as loud crashing and metallic noises echo down the hall. And then a horrible noise she couldn’t identify for a moment, a high-pitched bleat that sounded like a venlil’s mimicry of a furious roar.
Everyone had stood up, having drawn their tranq pistols and focusing on the doorway. The first one to walk out of it is Marik, walking nonchalantly as if nothing had happened. Except something clearly had happened, he had four marks across his face, his right shoulder was deeply stained orange with his blood and his eyes had a look of fury she had never seen in her kin before, but perhaps most distressingly was the red stains in his paws and running down his mouth “I don’t know how you handle this, it’s absolutely brahking disgusting” he says, ignoring everyone who’d instinctively raised their guns at his entrance, picking up a medkit that’s always hanging at the wall and beelining to the breakroom.
And right behind him is another grizzly sight. Looking the very sight of everything everyone feared humans would look like, orange staining the white of his sleeves as well as his nails, Santos spits a tuft of fur from his orange-stained mouth “And you taste absolutely fucking foul too” with that morbid remark she notices he’s also deeply stained with red, three ragged gashes down his left arm and a portion of his right ear missing, spilling red down his right shoulder. He calmly follows Marik to the breakroom.
“What… Happened…”
It wasn’t, in fact, pretty. Santos knew very well this was an absolute fucking disaster. Taking a bite of your coworker’s shoulder would have been a complete disaster if they were both humans, and by everything that’s holy the fucking devil sheep was pretty much one, but he was a venlil and given how often ‘eaten’ was a cause of death for this species the optics of this situation was as horrible as it could be.
Sure, the devil sheep had started it. He’d completely flown off the handle at whatever it was he had said and managed to perform the miracle of making those stubby claws of his tear through his arm before trying to break his skull with his. And the damage to his ear was a good sign the demon was willing to fight like a goddamn animal, so he just returned the favor in kind.
At least the damned devil sheep still had enough of his faculties to realize both needed medical attention and the hospital wasn’t a viable choice, so now they were both lying down on the couches of the breakroom while Keya carefully applied the contents of the medkit on his enemy. He’d insisted she check him out first, even going as far as growling at her, which just prompted her to give a twist of her right ear equivalent to a human raising an eyebrow.
As soon as she had applied the stitching gel to Marik’s face and shoulder and applied an adhesive bandage to the bite marks the devil sheep silently walked out of the room. “What happened?” Keya asks, with a simultaneously stiff and angry tone that made him question what side of the bed she woke up today, he was betting it wasn’t the cold bastard right now.
“Dunno.” he winces as she applies stitching gel to his ear, the devil sheep’s grinding teeth had managed to somehow take a piece out of it “I said something that set him off worse than I’ve ever seen, but nothing I haven’t said before. I expected him to go talk to you before it got down to blows”
Keya stops for a moment to move herself in his field of view “And he got so angry you bit him?” before returning to his side to start applying a bandage to his ear across the head.
“No, he got so angry he did this” he raises his wounded arm, the cuts are deep and jagged like cut with a rusted and chipped knife “And then all bets were off”
There’s a loud thumping noise of Keya slamming her tail on the ground “And somehow after taking pieces out of each other you just calmly walk over here to get treated like nothing happened?!” it was definitely her if she was getting angry like this.
He takes a deep breath to prepare for the stinging when she starts applying the stitching gel to his arm, thank heavens none of the cuts hit a serious blood vessel “Look, I’ve seen people like that before. Couple of times I had to trade fists with people in that state after the bombs, sometimes the only way to get what you’re feeling out is some violence. And no offense, but your people don’t know how to deal with that need”
Keya sighs “With you calling him a devil sheep in the middle of an exterminator’s precinct it surprises me this didn’t happen earlier…”
At that moment Santos’ mind halts. Something is failing to add up “Wait. Hold that thought- The translator is doing something weird” he turns to face Keya to continue saying something only to be interrupted by the pain of the bandages on his arm.
“I really hope it is because you don’t call people that” she had very purposefully made the bandaging process painful.
“There is zero reason the words, the meaning of the words I’m using, translate to anything you have real context for here” he stares at Keya, who gives him a sideways stare in return “I’m calling him a sheep, the same way he calls me an ape. What you’re talking it seems i’m using one of your idioms here and I doubt that’s true”
Keya takes a seat “The translator is good at finding meanings” she gives a dismissive tail wave “From what I understand the software knows enough to see that you’re using an animal reference as an offensive adjective to construct a phrase we can understand from it. Or at least it’s been able to for… What… The last three terran months at least”
Santos puts a hand on his forehead “So it’s not that word. Do you have a word for a devil? A creature that’s the embodiment of evil in some religion?”
It was a pain talking about translator issues through the translator, everyone knew that “An old faith that still holds some pretty strong roots sees the darkness and the night as evil. The meaning of what you call him keeps getting translated as… A child born of the Night itself.”
The human raises an eyebrow “What, like a vampire or something?”
Keya closes her eyes, and slowly tilts her head to the side “That parsed… I didn’t think humans had those kinds of myths too. But a little less blood drinking and more flesh eating”
He bites his lower lip, he can feel the genuinely foul taste of the orange blood that he still hadn’t cleaned from his face “Of course… A mythologization of ‘predator disease’ itself. Not unlike a changeling, fuck.” he rubs his forehead “And with his high aggression and staring habit, of course he’d see it like that. He never reacted that badly to it before”
Only at this moment he realizes Keya is… Surprisingly, terrifyingly calm about staring at his still blood-soaked visage “I bet he knows you had no idea about what you were talking about. But it’s still a sensitive thing” she stands up “Talk to him, but later. Not going to intrude in his personal life more than this. For now, you’re dismissed until your next shift” she turns to give him a side-eye stare “And clean up before you leave”
Very obviously he was going to clean up before leaving. Walking around drenched in venlil blood wasn’t going to fly in the capital, here in bumfuck nowhere Blackriver? The fact that he had accidentally been using something on par with some old human racial slurs against Maurice didn’t sit well with him, he was an annoying ass with a prickly personality that always got under his skin, but that was all it was.
Face clean and sleeves rolled to hide the stains, he heads out, still mostly looking like he’d lost a fight. Thankfully, the trip to his apartment is quick, and so is the process of getting properly cleaned and changed. He takes additional time cleaning his mouth with mouthwash- This planet made him hyperaware of some things and at this point he was certain he wasn’t going to get the taste of Maurice’s blood out of his tongue for a few days no matter what he did.
But it was better to try to do something about it than sit here and feel weird about it. It meant he should probably go out and eat something, which was a bit of a problem. There were a pair of restaurants on Blackriver, and none of them would deny him but it was always such a laborious process to get served, they were simply not used to humans here and at least half the servers were worse than that. But he just needed a flavor distraction, not really nutrition, so… There was one place where he was very much welcomed.
Ready to leave, he heads out again. The trip is longer this time, but it’s very easy to find one’s way to where he’s going, very much literally the center of town. Blackriver had a large park at it’s center, and parks in venlil cities always amused him in a dark way, they were as wild as wilderness was allowed to get in this planet. What is left of nature here is simply allowed to exist freely in those places, and venlinese cities often had a large amount of them, more than most terran cities. Interestingly, for as little this town had to offer to anyone not working in the farms, the park actually had something that he understood was a bit of a tourist attraction, the forgotten tree.
It is a very large tree, which seemed to grow into unnatural shapes and colors, but that was due to the sheer amount of grafts it had received over time. For some reason, multiple branches had been grafted on it, and even in the time he’d been here there’d been new branches added to it. And on top of that, the branches were often decorated. Never the original branches, always the grafts, and they all were decorated with a variety of things, all of which seemed to be personal effects. Just one detail unnerved him sometimes when looking at it, it was very common for what was seemingly braided wool to be used as a decoration, and there was exactly one source of a material like that in this planet. He knew it was called ‘the forgotten tree’ by the locals, but he never really understood why.
But his objective wasn’t in the park itself, but a place that had a great view of the forgotten tree. The Watchful, a somewhat strange small café, had most of its seating area outside and the kitchen inside and was generally a very silent place. He’d come here once early on when he was looking around the town, the staff here was wary about him as always, one even had asked him why he was here instead of elsewhere. Tired of that kind of reaction, he’d just been honest and said he wanted a drink while looking at the pretty tree. And for some reason the staff seemed to warm up to him very fast from that point on, and he couldn’t quite understand- Other than the fact the tree was probably important, and given the name of the establishment it was probably set up here exactly for people to eat while looking at this strange tree.
He ordered something powerful and intense, a starberry and firefruit juice which was a local blend known to annihilate your sense of taste with its potency and a small fashik salad, one of the most costly items in the menu being an import from the Grand Herd, and to him something that tasted just like breaded and fried cauliflower despite it being raw leaves. All very helpful in washing away the taste in his mouth. He sat there in the seat outside, looking at the forgotten tree, nobody bothering him about his wounds. There was a sense of calm to doing this that really helped alleviate his nerves.
But something caused him to tense, something he saw. Maurice himself had shown up, not at the café however, but at the tree. He watched the night-black venlil walk up to the tree, sit in front of it and just… Stay there. And it made him curious, at this point he was done with his snack and he needed to talk to him anyway. So he walks over calmly.
He notices the man has something on his lap, it looks like a pair of metal rods with some electronic components on them, and he had a small box of tools with him. On closer inspection, those rods seemed like a part of the rifle he had used yesterday. But some unseen force, some understanding inside him, made him unable to start up a conversation.
He looks up at the tree, it sways gently as the everlasting breeze cannot seem to overpower it for more than a moment at a time, the sun through its leaves shines a mosaic pattern on the ground. The decorated branches remind him deeply of something… Ceremonial. Like something you’d see at a temple. So he just sits down in front of the tree as well, looking up at it. “Do you know what this tree is?” Marik asks.
Santos just shakes his head gently
“It’s a grave” he looks at Marik “There’s many traditions out here. In one of them, when someone dies their death is marked by grafting a new branch on a special tree” the venlil looks up at the tree “Do you know this tree’s name?”
“I’ve heard it called the forgotten tree”
“The special tree… It’s supposed to represent one’s family. In that tradition” he looks back down, and continues to adjust the component he was messing with “A person’s passing is remembered by adding another branch of the family tree”
Santos looks back up at the tree “If this is that kind of tree then… Whose family is this?”
“This one… This one is different” Marik takes a slow breath “Once upon a time, someone wanted to leave a mark for a nameless person. Someone who’d died without a herd, or even a family.” his hands stop moving for a moment “So, they grafted a scion to a random tree, in the name of a forgotten one”
Then, he continues the adjustments “And someone heard about it, someone that needed a forgotten one to be remembered. So they came here too, and added another branch. And it happened again. And again.”
“This is a grave for the herdless, the reviled, the forgotten.” Marik looks up again, but he notices this time he’s looking at somewhere specific on the tree “A grave for the ones everyone else wanted to forget, but one last person wanted to remember” he looks back to his work “A tree for the forgotten”
Santos takes in the tree again, looking at the various decorations. He doesn’t really form a real thought about the tree, or the branches, he just lets his mind take it in “They… Set up the café back there, so they could come visit without anyone asking, isn’t it?”
Marik points to a branch about halfway up the tree, one where a thick rope of braided wool serves as an adornment. The rope’s wool is of two contrasting colors, a deep jet-black and a dirty white “That… It’s my parents’ hand binds”
Hand binds… He trusted the translator to have given him the right meaning, especially given what else Marik had just said. Earth also had some traditions with hand binds for marriage.
Marik takes a deep breath turns to face him “You will keep your mouth shut while I speak” then he looks back at the tree
It didn’t feel like a threat, strangely enough. And he had the feeling this was going to get complicated “My mother had predator’s disease, she was a violent predator that once very much put a kid’s head through a locker in my school because the kid annoyed her too much.” he wanted badly to say something “My father was part of a death cult, he’d raise dangerous predators and set them off in the town. And the worst of all, for me at least, he spent every waking moment caring for his flesh eaters, he loved them more than me”
That sounded horrible, but something felt off. Marik’s tone sounded as flat as the cold bastard’s. But he was told not to speak until he was done. Marik then sets down his tools and the piece he was working on, and pulls out a small white box with two subdivisions from a satchel and he keeps it firmly held in his lap, Santos can identify it easily as a holder for contact lenses. And just as it seems, Marik brings up one of his hands up to his face, and very gently and carefully removes one of his contacts, revealing the terrifying color of his eye. Then he repeats the procedure with the other, storing his contacts in the box, and turns to face Santos- Staring at him with those two demonic eyes.
Deep black sclera and blood-red irises, when coupled with his night-black wool and nasty disposition it really made him look like a demon. It made sense why the word ‘nightchild’ was used. He’d seen him without his contacts once before, when they fought the first time, the one time he shouted at him for real. “I have hyperchromia” he says, in a flat tone.
Marik keeps his face trained on him, but his ears are pinned back “My body produces far more pigmentation than natural. Venlil don’t get this deep black” he grabs at his wool “Without special care, this fur falls off on its own. My mother always had a lot of missing patches, making her look sick” Marik adjusts his facing to look directly into Santos’ eyes, but it wasn’t the usual side-eye that other venlil give, it was a terrifyingly unnerving human stare that hit him directly into the uncanny valley. But in that stare, Santos could see a thin green film over the man’s cornea “It affects my vision. The pigmentation seeps into the cornea and distorts light. Anything with color… It bleeds off, overwhelms everything around it”
“You’re blind…” it was muttered, he almost flinched expecting Marik to snap at him, but he doesn’t.
“It has overtaken my entire vision, except for a small bit, at the far left side of my right eye. There’s a ten degree angle where its effects are… Lesser. I can see shapes, and shadows”
Then, Marik turns to face the tree again. It’s visible how much he can’t put it into focus with how his stance is different. “I’m a nightchild. Fur black as the night, the eyes of a predator, and the disposition of one” he looks down, and starts getting his tools back into the box. The way he does it without error, and the way he stores the gun part back in his satchel as if he could see perfectly, speaks of his practice of doing this.
“You do not know what it is you call me, but I’ve heard it all my life. I couldn’t take it as well when I was a kid” he looks back up “That girl… She’d always call me a monster. A predator. She’d say nasty things every paw, every time I met her in the corridors she’d berate me.” he takes a deep breath “One day I lost my patience, like I did with you last paw”
That causes Santos to wince, knowing where this was going “I smashed her head through the locker. Bent the flimsy metal with her skull. She was sent to the hospital” he didn’t know if he wanted to know what happened next.
“The exterminators got involved. I was panicking when I heard it, we all know what happens when they get involved. But my parents arrived before they did.” Marik takes a deep breath “I inherited my hyperchromia from my mother” he pauses for another moment “I remember her as the gentlest woman I have ever met, she was careful with every movement, she taught me how to guide my movement with my tail to make up for lack of sight” he tilts his head slightly to the side “That time, she’d put an unnatural aggression in her voice, she growled at the exterminators like a beast. They asked things, and she admitted that the girl had been annoying her, so she’d smashed her head”
There’s a long stretch of silence, and Santos says nothing until Marik pulls something else out of his satchel. It’s a book that seems to have survived a fireplace somehow, which he hands over to him. “Do you remember those athai that had nested in an abandoned house? That problem you solved that made Keya start trusting you, when you decided to move their nests?” Marik turns to face him, without his lenses to give his eyes focus that glassy and distant stare is unnerving “I lived there. With my father” he turns back to the tree.
The book is something he can’t read, but it looks half burnt and there seems to be something inside of it. He considers for a moment, and decides to pick up his datapad to have the visual translator tell him at least the title “The Linked Chain”. He opens up the book carefully, this thing has survived an attempt at destruction and it shows, whatever it had to say was mostly lost to the flames. But there were some objects being held by the book. A small charm with three metal hoops all connected at the center, a data storage device with clear signs of heat damage and a fragment of a burned photograph.
The photograph was of a short venlil, jet-black wool, black sclera and blood-red irises, but at the burned edges of the image he could see something else, a hand holding the image of the one in the photo, just a wisp of off-white wool and almost difficult to notice just the shoulder of another, much smaller, jet-black venlil. This once was a family photo.
“He was certain he could save the failing crops with the athai. He raised them carefully, kept them out of trouble, let them roam the fields. The crops were truly failing back then” Marik takes a deep breath “My lenses, they were the only gift he ever gave me. They’re not normal lenses, they can selectively change the intensity and frequency of light that crosses them, they use programmable nanostructures so they can be adjusted for the user.” he takes a deep breath “I’m… The only one with those. They let me see, by taking away the color of things… They use military cloaking technology, technology that isn’t available to civilians”
Santos continues to page through the book, and at the very end he finds one last object. A fragment of a letter of all things, almost completely burned only a handful of words and a sigil can be seen, the sigil is of three leaves crossed together “One day exterminators showed up at our house. They said a dangerous death cultist was trying to get everyone killed, and wanted to talk to my father.” he extends his hand to him, and Santos returns the book.
“I was familiar with the precinct’s personnel, they’d bothered my mother relentlessly in the past. I recognized the chief of the time, but not the others.” he takes a deep breath again “They didn’t bother asking questions when my father showed up, they didn’t bother about collateral. It was all he could do to shove me out of the effect range”
Santos bites his lower lip, wanting to say something. But there was no sense of finality to Marik’s words yet “And then they just left. No followup. Not making sure the body was consumed. I knew enough to grab a water bucket, but wool burns like dried ipsom. He always carried that book with him, hidden, he didn’t trust it anywhere else. He had no strength for words, he barely had the strength to start pulling it out of where it was”
“I wonder… If my father would be proud” he closes his eyes “Now that i’m just like his beasts.” before Santos could be tempted to answer, he continues “Predator, bah. Stupid name. Like you humans say, it denotes a relationship. Who eats, who gets eaten. Stupid, that means nothing”
Marik raises a hand up to his face “Look at you. That word means nothing, it doesn’t tell you who is dangerous. No, no… The important word is hunter. They are the ones who kill.” he slowly flexes his fingers “Humans… There’s almost no human hunters. Bet even the arxur have those who aren’t hunters either. But we all forget us herbivores have hunters too.” he closes his hand in a fist “The difference is that you eat what you kill, we just leave it to rot” he lowers his hand “I am a hunter, and I love it.”
Marik stands up “Santos. I hate humans” his voice is distressingly cold “And more than any one of your kind I hate you” he turns to face him “My life was simple, before you arrived”
Especially now, it always caught Santos off-guard how Marik could growl “I knew who to hate, I knew what was right and wrong, it was simple. But you took that from me” he steps closer “And you took it from me in the most terrible, sadistic way possible” and he steps even closer, close enough he can feel the man’s wool against his chest “You took it from me in such a way that I don’t want it back anymore. You took that ease, that simplicity of my life away forever. I can’t have it back because I don’t want it. And it’s YOUR FAULT”
Marik takes a step back “My mother gave herself so I wouldn’t go to a facility. My father gave me eyes that can see, and the price was life.” Marik turns around and faces away, he lowers his tail towards the ground and brings it around his legs, swiping the ground in front of him “Everything that endangered us we killed, anything that competed with us we’ve starved. My father knew that. He knew we were the apex predators of this planet, nothing could stand before our hunters, and I’m one of them. You made me realize that” he says, before he walks away. Santos just stares, watching as his companion moves on as if he could see, tail swiping around the ground in front of him- Like a human would use a cane.
Santos sighs, and sits down. He then looks up, staring at the branch with the white-and-black braid “Hey. I know you don’t know me, but I know your son. Y’know, he’s one hell of a fucking ass. Seems like he’s always been, eh?” he wasn’t sure why he was doing this “But he’s good. Said he’s like your athai now, don’t think he is, he knows restraint. Bites like one, though. Don’t know why he’s with us right now, not after those… People took you two from him. But he’s a good guy.”
He takes a deep breath “He needs a friend, I can’t be it. I guess… I helped him out, yeah. He needed what happened but… I can’t be friends with him anymore now, he wouldn’t allow it. It’s fine, he needs to hate someone, too. Hating you is what got him going when you were gone, it seems. I can take it, he’s fun to annoy too.”
He looks at the tree itself now, at the flecks of light that shine through the mismatched leaves “You should be proud of him. I know I would be.”
And... Here's a weird-ass chapter? We see the aftermath of having a close call, and we learn more about Marik's weirdness. The season "Linked" has a single chapter, on account of being a situation that couldn't really fit happening during a mission. Who knows, it might get other chapters later- We have more characters with their own histories to discover.
This was one of the chapters I spent most brainpower on if anything because it... Felt good thinking about it. Yeah I was crying writing it, it was genuinely difficult for some raeson.
And the next season is "Burned Minds", with such a name I wonder what could it be about.
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2023.05.26 21:47 Sh00tL00ps Trip Report: 1 Month in Europe (4 countries and 8 cities)

Hi /onebag,
My wife and I just spent 1 month in Europe on an extended honeymoon and had an absolutely amazing time. We visited:
Needless to say it was a packed trip with a lot of movement between different places and I was so thankful to have a backpack throughout the whole trip. Here was my packing list:
Backpack: Aer Travel Pack 2
Clothes (packed in Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes):
Wearing in transit:
Toiletries (Peak Designs Small Wash Pouch):
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2023.05.26 18:07 yourmom6924046 Guess what

Guess what submitted by yourmom6924046 to rtrolling [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 12:30 Chico237 #NIOCORP~ WHILE WAITING FOR RARE EARTHS SEPARATION NEWS ~How to Secure Critical Minerals for Clean Energy Without Alienating China~ & more!

#NIOCORP~ WHILE WAITING FOR RARE EARTHS SEPARATION NEWS ~How to Secure Critical Minerals for Clean Energy Without Alienating China~ & more!

MAY 25, 2023~ How to Secure Critical Minerals for Clean Energy Without Alienating China~

How to Secure Critical Minerals for Clean Energy Without Alienating China Council on Foreign Relations (cfr.org)
There are multiple ways to bolster the security of U.S. critical mineral supply chains, such as the mining, processing, and application of minerals, among others. Pushing China to be a disruptor is not one of them.
President Biden meets with the leaders of Australia, Japan, and India on the sidelines of the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters
As the U.S. economy strives to decarbonize amid escalating geopolitical tensions, President Joe Biden in February 2021 requested a review of the United States’ vulnerabilities in critical mineral and materials supply chains. Critical minerals, such as cobalt, lithium, and nickel, are core inputs for clean energy technologies and EV batteries. The subsequent report [PDF] issued by the White House in June unveiled an unsettling reality: critical mineral supply chains are concentrated in a few nations, heightening U.S. vulnerabilities. The report also shed light on China’s aggressive use of industrial policies to promote domestic production and establish dominance in the global market share of critical mineral supply chains. Data from the 2022 U.S. Geological Survey shows that the United States is 100 percent import-dependent on twelve critical minerals and more than fifty percent import-dependent on thirty-one additional minerals. China is the largest source of imports for twenty-six of the fifty minerals classified as critical by the U.S. government. This predicament has undeniably emerged as a national security concern for U.S. policymakers.
From Washington’s vantage point, the amalgamation of onshore, nearshore, and friend-shore initiatives helps to curb China’s dominance in critical minerals supply chains. However, Beijing views those regional partnerships and critical mineral mini-alliances as manifestations of a united Western containment strategy against China. As both Washington and Beijing persist in their endeavors to optimize the security of their respective critical minerals supply chains, if not adeptly managed, the potential for their broader strategic rivalry to escalate and spill over the Indo-Pacific region looms ominously.
The United States has taken substantive measures to secure critical mineral supply chains by forging minilateral partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, comprising the United States, Australia, India, and Japan. In March 2022, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the Quad Critical Minerals Partnership Act to address “the national security threat posed by the People’s Republic of China’s control over nearly 2/3 of the global supply of critical minerals, and for other purposes.” In May 2022, the Quad nations completed mapping critical minerals capacity and vulnerabilities in global semiconductor supply chains, making an initial stride toward reducing reliance on China for critical minerals. In October 2022, a group of Washington insiders announced a plan to launch a fund with more than $1 billion in backing to invest mainly in companies in Quad countries to counter China’s dominance in critical minerals.
The other members of the Quad have also launched their own trilateral or bilateral partnerships to secure their critical mineral supply chains. Australia, endowed with abundant resources but strained relations with China, has been particularly motivated to cooperate on critical minerals with other regional partners. Australian officials have expressed their commitment to supporting democratic partners by leveraging multilateral frameworks to push back against China’s dominance. A noteworthy example is the collaborative endeavor launched in March 2022 by Australia, India, and Japan, known as the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.
Quad nations have also sought to bolster bilateral ties. For example, Australia and India launched a three-year Critical Minerals Investment Partnership in July 2022 to strengthen cooperation on critical minerals and counter China’s dominance over those supply chains. Australia has committed $5.8 million AUS—about $4 million USD—to this partnership. The Indian critical minerals firm Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. and the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office of Australia will jointly fund a due diligence study in Australia’s lithium and cobalt mineral assets with an initial amount of $6 million USD.
As the sole northeast Asian member of the Quad, Japan has also actively pursued bilateral partnerships within the Quad grouping. To facilitate the expansion of Japanese business in India, the Japanese government, in collaboration with their Indian counterparts, has launched two notable initiatives: the India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership and India-Japan Clean Energy Partnership. In May 2022, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio kicked off a “Japan Week” in India to further strengthen India-Japan ties. Under Kishida’s leadership, Japan has also pursued closer strategic alignment with the United States. In July 2022, Japan and the United States launched the U.S.-Japan Economic Policy Consultative Committee to “foster supply chain resilience in strategic sectors, including, in particular, semiconductors, batteries, and critical minerals.”
Although not a member of the Quad, South Korea has established cooperation mechanisms with Quad nations, particularly Australia, to strengthen critical mineral supply chains and reduce reliance on China. Even prior to the Quad’s intensified effort to counter China, prominent Korean firms such as LG Chem, LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation, Posco, EcoPro, and Samsung SDI had already invested in and formed partnerships or offtake agreements with Australian mining companies. During South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Australia in December 2021, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Critical Mineral Supply Chains, encompassing rare earths, lithium, graphite, cobalt, and nickel. Meanwhile, Australian Strategic Minerals (ASM) signed a deal with the Korean Mine Rehabilitation and Resource Corporation, a government agency that oversees South Korea’s national resource security and develops overseas mining and processing capabilities. This partnership paved the way for ASM to manufacture in its South Korean processing plant, catering to esteemed South Korean customers such as Samsung and LG.
Besides the Quad, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, as outlined by the White House, also put on its agenda the assurance of critical minerals access as a means to counter China’s dominance. In addition, the Biden administration has launched a broader multilateral Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) with critical partners to “friend-shore” critical mineral supply chains. The MSP has twelve inaugural members, including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Commission. Italy joined the MSP as its newest member in February. While the MSP theoretically is open to all countries that “are committed to building robust, responsible critical mineral supply chains to support economic prosperity and climate objectives,” it mirrors NATO in its exclusion of China, Russia, and other countries and economies that do not align with its objectives. Moreover, India’s current absence from the U.S.-led MSP has prompted Indian officials to strengthen cooperation with other regional partners.
The Biden administration has allocated considerable financial resources to secure a domestically sourced supply chain for critical minerals, ensuring a “Made in America” approach. This effort involves mobilizing government resources, such as the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program, and offering policy incentives to attract the private sector to invest in U.S. companies and expand the domestic production of critical minerals. Notably, the Energy Act of 2020, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have all either authorized funding for domestic critical minerals investment or explicitly required domestic sourcing of critical minerals only for electric vehicle tax credits. While fostering a Made-in-America critical-minerals supply chain evokes patriotism, aggressively pursuing such a strategy requires significant expenditure, runs the risk of forming exclusive cliques at the cost of alienating broader U.S. allies and partners, and could further fracture the U.S.-led global system as the world moves beyond hydrocarbon.
Chinese policymakers are not feeling entirely secure with China’s existing dominance in the critical mineral supply chains. Given the projected demand growth for critical minerals and growing global competition for them, Chinese leaders have placed mineral resources as strategically important as energy resources even before the Biden administration’s efforts to counter China’s dominance in critical minerals. At a Politburo Central Committee meeting in November 2021, China’s top leaders emphasized the necessity to “strengthen industrial resilience … ensure food security, energy and mineral resources security, critical infrastructure security, and overseas interests security.” This was the first time that mineral security and energy security were emphasized side by side, suggesting that mineral security has become an issue of national strategic interest. In December 2021, China Rare Earths Group was launched as a state-owned enterprise under the purview of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission after the merger of Minmetals Rare Earth, Chinalco Rare Earth & Metals Co, and China Southern Rare Earth Group Co.
In this context, U.S.-led critical mineral supply chains initiatives that aim to counter China’s dominance inevitably clash with the Chinese government’s interests in securing mineral resources for China’s industrial development. While China has not pursued its own critical minerals supply chains alliance through diplomatic means to respond to U.S.-led friend-shoring initiatives, it has renovated its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and attempts to pursue critical minerals statecraft not through alliance but through its SOEs. For example, the Chinese government launched the China Mineral Resources Group with registered capital of RMB 20 billion in July 2022, one month after the launch of the MSP. The goal is to integrate and streamline state-owned procurement procedures and break the West’s dominance in the pricing mechanism of mineral resources. In November 2022, China Mineral Resources Group signed strategic cooperation agreements with three international mining giants, including Brazil’s Vale, Australia’s BHP Billiton, and an Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto.
The United States needs to resist the allure of compensating for its near-term vulnerabilities at the expense of its continued leadership in a greener world. The Biden administration rightly recognizes the need to strike a balance by complementing its domestically focused strategy with a regional and multilateral approach that embraces neighboring and friendly nations, mitigating the risk of supply chain disruptions stemming from concentration in specific countries. However, it also needs to create incentives for China to stay invested in upholding the security of critical minerals supply chains rather than pushing it toward disruptive actions. The potential for China to disrupt the global critical minerals markets is not limited to possibly banning the export of rare earth elements crucial for the manufacture of advanced American weaponry such as the F-35 fighter jets. According to the “Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited and Restricted from Export (For Soliciting Public Comment)” published by China’s Ministry of Commerce in December 2022, the Chinese government has been considering prohibiting the export of critical technologies used for refining rare earth minerals in retaliation to U.S. export controls. Encouraging China to assume the role of a stabilizer instead of a disruptor will alleviate the urgency and pressure on the U.S. government to allocate substantial resources for costly industrial policies.

MAY 25, 2023~Siemens Gamesa to cut reliance on China for rare earths, permanent magnets~

Siemens Gamesa to cut reliance on China for rare earths, permanent magnets - MINING.COM
Credit: Siemens Gamesa
Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa is hoping to cut is dependence on China in some critical parts of its supply chain, its chief executive said, adding that while there was interest from customers such a move would lead to higher prices.
Jochen Eickholt said that Siemens Gamesa was nearly 100% dependent on China for rare earths and permanent magnets, which are among the critical materials needed to make wind turbines.
“We are considering offering a more diversified supply chain in the future. If that is what customers want,” he told reporters at the company’s turbine factory in Cuxhaven, Germany.
“This is more expensive and can add a few percentage points to the price,” Eickholt added, without specifying what an acceptable supply chain mix would be.
Dependence on China in key materials and technologies has become a major issue for Europe, particular Germany, which has asked its biggest corporations to de-risk, which essentially means lowering Chinese exposure in the supply chain.
However, a new strategy for Germany in its dealings with China faces delays over policy differences within the government, three sources told Reuters, adding it will not be in place in time for bilateral talks scheduled for June 20.
Siemens Gamesa last month signed a deal with Australia’s Arafura Rare Earths to procure 200 tonnes of materials needed for permanent magnets a year, helping the Siemens Energy owned company to diversify away from China.
(By Christoph Steitz, Editing by Rachel More and Alexander Smith)

MAY 25, 2023 ~Saskatchewan Research Council manufactures Canada’s first solvent extraction cell tech for REE processing~

Saskatchewan Research Council manufactures Canada's first solvent extraction cell tech for REE processing - MINING.COM
mage from the Saskatchewan Research Council. The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) announced Thursday it has successfully designed and manufactured proprietary commercial-scale solvent extraction cells for its under construction rare earth processing facility.

Saskatchewan and Canada are now one of only a handful of jurisdictions in the world with this capability.

The cells, which are being developed with automation algorithms to improve productivity and efficiency, are being manufactured at an SRC-operated fabrication facility in Saskatoon, that marked its grand opening Thursday alongside Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for SRC.
“The design, fabrication and automaton of these solvent extraction cells right here in Saskatchewan is helping to develop an innovative and secure rare earth element supply chain in North America,” Harrison said in a media statement.
SRC is manufacturing 140 of these cells at the fabrication facility by fall 2023. The cells will be the main component in the rare earth processing facility’s separation unit. The cells take mixed rare earth chloride, a liquid mixture which includes all 17 rare earth elements, through a process that separates them into individual or grouped rare earth oxides.
When separated, rare earth elements are highly valuable and are usedin a variety of modern technological end-uses including cell phones, electric vehicles and wind turbines, along with more strategic uses including for the defense industry.
“As SRC continues to develop its own commercial demonstration rare earth processing facility, it is developing additional expertise and new processes and technologies, like the solvent extraction cells, that will help position Saskatchewan as a leading-edge rare earth element hub,” SRC president and CEO Mike Crabtree said the statement.
“The cells have been developed with automation algorithms to improve both productivity and efficiency, while at the same time being a cost-effective option, making them both a benefit to SRC’s facility but also to the growing rare earth industry as a whole.”
RC is constructing North America’s first fully integrated, commercial, demonstration rare earth processing facility with hydrometallurgy, separation and metal smelting stages, which is expected to be fully operational in late 2024.

BACK ON Sept. 29th 2020-NioCorp R&D Effort Identifies Possible Improved Approach to Niobium Extraction for its Elk Creek Project

NioCorp R&D Effort Identifies Possible Improved Approach to Niobium Extraction for its Elk Creek Project - NioCorp Developments Ltd.
![img](m4wlrhjuf52b1 " \"L3 and the Company intend to conduct additional carbonation testing at a larger scale to optimize carbonation operating conditions, confirm reaction kinetics, evaluate total potential extraction for niobium and other elements and complete additional mass balances, as funds become available. \"")


2 1/2 YEARS LATER....

MAY 25. 2023 ~NioCorp Demonstrates Higher Niobium Recovery Rates~

NioCorp Demonstrates Higher Niobium Recovery Rates - NioCorp Developments Ltd.
New Processing Approach Demonstrates the Ability to Make More Niobium per Tonne of Ore, Produce a Higher Purity Product, and Potentially Address New Markets with Different Niobium Products
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (May 25, 2023) – NioCorp Developments Ltd. (“NioCorp” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:NB) (TSX:NB) is pleased to announce that it has successfully demonstrated the ability to recover greater amounts of the critical mineral niobium from each tonne of ore the Company expects to mine at its Elk Creek Critical Minerals Project, located in southeast Nebraska, once sufficient financing is obtained and the project is constructed.
Final results from NioCorp’s metallurgical demonstration plant in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, show that NioCorp’s new and improved recovery process can achieve a 90.7% rate of niobium recovery through the hydrometallurgical process. Overall recovery through the pyrometallurgical production of the commercial product ferroniobium is expected to be 86.7%. NioCorp’s previous approach to niobium production was able to achieve recovery rates through the hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurtical processes of 86.8% and 82.4%, respectively.

Please see Jim's response to questions posed for comment-3/17/2022

A) Could you comment on what the production of higher purity niobium & titanium could be utilized for once realized?
"If the higher purity Niobium and Titanium intermediates that L3 was able to produce at bench-scale are replicated and proven at demonstration scale, this would put us in a position to more easily move to other products beyond those outlined in our 2019 Feasibility Study. Niobium oxide for use in Li-Ion batteries is one possible example, although the production of that product would require additional processing steps beyond the higher-purity niobium intermediate that we discussed in last week’s news release. The company is not yet in a position to make a determination on whether or not, and when, to possibly expand our Niobium product offering. Higher grade TiO2 could expose us to additional markets where higher margins could be obtained. But, again, we are not in a position to speak to those possibilities in any detail yet."
B) Niocorp’s preferred separation method is SX. Are these higher purity processes part of an improved SX process or “something else”?
"No, the processes we recently discussed occur in the earlier stages of the flowsheet, prior to any SX processing. We look forward to unveiling those details once these processes are verified at the demonstration plant level and once all associated work needed to complete an updated Feasibility Study is completed. "


Mining Magazine - May 2023 Mining Digital


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2023.05.25 19:35 igorekk Handpicked for Berlin (but also relevant for the tech community)

I figured a part of my article could be relevant for the community at cscareerquestionsEU; it mostly touches the tech scene in Berlin and Germany and is a summary of one year of news. It might help you with decision making-feedback appreciated. (#number = issue of the newsletter)

🚀 Startups, scale-ups and others

In May '22 (#1), tiny Estonia (pop. of 1.32M) had ten unicorns. Flink purchased French Cajoo (#4) for under €100M, signalling future consolidations. The main worry for Tier’s CEO Lawrence Leuschner at the time (#4) were electric scooter dedicated parking spaces in Berlin (23k scooters in total).
The first big layoffs started (#5): Klarna, Nuri, Uncapped, Getir, Gorillas, Zapp & others. This was also the time of the “alumni” spreadsheets trend, which had completely disappeared. While Gorillas struggled and expanded its product portfolio (#6), Knuspr (part of the Czech Rohlik Group) said it was almost profitable (#5). Fast forward to today, they still aren’t, but they, like everyone else (!), plan to turn profitable by the end of 2023.
🔥 I linked to this great article on the cash-burning unit economics of grocery delivery services like Gorillas & co. Spoiler: unit economics are absolute shit. (#35)
On the other hand, the convenience of food delivery is a promising business and is here to stay. This trend of restaurants gaining share from grocery stores is described in detail here. People simply cook much less? (#42)
Cariad, VW’s software arm, was already struggling to deliver a new operating system (#7), and it took almost a year to make bigger changes in the board. Trendyol, a Turkish fast fashion company, was planning a big expansion in Germany (#7), but I could not find much data to see how successful they were/are.
AWS had big plans to add 600 positions in Germany (#11), but I am not really sure how that went since Amazon laid off 27k people in 2023. Deutsche Bahn was struggling with the worst delays in history (#11), while Deutsche Bank was developing a white-label BNPL solution (#12), which is still in development, judging by not hearing about it again.
Handelsblatt was right about the vertical farming company Infarm back in the day (#16), saying they were almost broke. It turns out they were and have recently left Europe. The same newspaper (+Tagesspiegel) told us that the bubble of instant delivery companies is bursting (#18), and it did.
Handelsblatt also analyzed (#29) the current position of unicorns with a strong presence in Germany. Based on the rating, the worst rated were Gorillas (spot on!), while they thought Flix, Mambu, SumUp, Taxfix, Trade Republic, wefox, Celonis, Commercetools, Personio, Staffbase, Sennder, Grover, Sunfire, and Enpal are the best bet for the future (gut or sehr gut). The rest were so-so. Only time will tell.
Of all the companies that raised money, Mietz, which raised €1M pre-seed (#22) to do Tinder for flats, caught my eye. The app has poor reviews so far. I was also looking for a flat and prepared a small Google doc that did not work (#15), and somehow got it after nine intensive days (#17), mostly because of a gorgeous final application.
QMWare and IONOS landed an undisclosed amount from the German government to develop SeQenC, a quantum computing platform (#28). I googled and did not find anything new on that.
Rewe started a new “Pick&Go” experiment at Schönhauser Alle 130 , where you simply walk out of the store without stopping at the cashier (#28). I still did not go.
Summer is almost here, and Klarna should be profitable anytime soon as declared last year (#30). Thirteen weeks later, we (#43) could also read that losing $100M monthly was not THAT crazy in the hyper-growth times. 😅
I told you about Dream Security, a company former Austrian Wunderkind Sebastian Kurz co-founded (€20M seed). (#24) Now they have a website.
I also mentioned layoffs just after hiring: Trade Republic (#7), Coinbase and Wayfair (#18). But to be fair, sometimes the hiring pipeline takes ages (six months or more), so I can partially understand it. Still, extremely painful for everyone involved. A relevant resource related to layoffs: what to do if you lose your job or get fired at arbeitnow (#39). In short, double-check and do not sign anything too fast.
💔 If you are counting on a big exit with ESOPs or similar programs, you could be in for a surprise and printed out with a big fat zero. This happened to Bonify employees(🇩🇪, sold to Schufa), but at least they will get a barbecue. 😅 More on liquidation preference from Investopedia. #45
The rest of the chapters include:
🌟 Award acceptance speech 📈 Facts and numbers 🅱️ Berlin, Berlin, Berlin 💸 Money, Money, Money 💡 Snippets revisited 🚀 Startups, scale-ups and others
Thanks for reading!
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2023.05.25 15:11 Rhion-618 Just One Drop - Chapter 86, pt 2

Chapter 86 - Eden, Still Part 2

Afternoon, the third day after Shel
Ce’lani ignored a few glances from curious onlookers as she perused the files. The library had expanded the Human database to be searchable from the desk-omnis, so after the encounter with Friar Barcio she slipped from the exhibit into a study hall to search through the endless records in relative privacy.
It was shocking that one planet could produce such a profusion of media, but practical search criteria helped to narrow things down. First, she’d set the parameter to his native English, then limited the search to the past twenty years. Something current seemed best, and the translator on her omni-pad was already getting a workout.
She’d given long and careful thought about how to express her feelings, and while personal and embarrassing, the key words she’d chosen reduced the returns from tens of thousands to thousands, then from thousands to hundreds. When she finally hit a return with just over four hundred, she bit her lip in thought.
Would Tom respond better to a song done by a man or a woman? If he were a Shil’vati male, she’d have picked a song sung by another woman… probably. It was more intimate, so something sung by a woman made sense when courting a man. It was coming from her, after all...
On the tip of the other tusk, Tom was a Human, and she’d seen him behave like a woman when the mood took him. Not merely like one of the gals. Mature, but still… Yet more important, this was something that would reach Miv’eire and Sholea, and while this wouldn't make her first impression with them, it still needed dignity. They’d been kind, understanding and welcoming – everything she’d ever wanted from kho-wives. Miv’eire was a noble, a Lady in every sense of the word, and Lea was the salt of the ocean; coming on too strong would look bad, or desperate, or both.
Something he could sing would be nice… so maybe something sung by a man was alright.
Keying her search in both ways didn’t help. There were still hundreds of entries.
Did it matter? This was coming from her. It had to be something that spoke to her feelings… It had to be real. Sincere. Unafraid to say what she yearned to say, even if she didn't know exactly how to say it. She looked at the search words one more time and made an addition.
Forty-one results.
That was better, and on a whim she sorted the list by title. Checking the time, Ce’lani bit her lower lip, set up the translator, and listened as the first melody began to play…
She’d been at it for over an hour when the clock marked noon, and she arched her back, wishing she’d picked out a more comfortable chair. Still, she’d gone through nearly half the files and marked down a few as promising. Leaning back in the chair, she rubbed her neck and started the next.
After a minute she started the file over, paying more attention to the lyrics…
Hello, my old heart. How have you been? Are you still there, inside my chest? I've been so worried, you've been so still. Barely beating at all…
_ _ _
“Good afternoon! This is Secretary Del Tir’rint, calling from Princess Ry’lee Tonhair kho Tasoo’s office. Might Gedris Ve’lin be available…? Yes, I’ll hold.” Del settled back in his chair, pondering the morning. The long conversation with Sholea Lanar kho Pel’avon had been delightful. The woman was clearly out to sea on what to do with her husband. Once he’d gotten her talking, it turned out she had a wonderfully straightforward manner; in the Imperial Palace, that was as refreshing as a breath of cool air on a hot summer day.
“Gedris?” Del smiled as the familiar voice came on the line. Gedris Ve’lin was a lovely woman, though unmarried, and she had been quite gracious to his wife at his sister’s fortieth birthday celebration. His wife found her quite charming, and after all, it was never too late to consider a fourth at their stage of- “Yes, it’s Del… Why, thank you, that’s very flattering. I agree, it’s been far too long. Kedri’s party was a lovely evening.”
Leaning back, he closed his eyes and nodded at the inevitable stream of pleasantries. While par for the course with many single women, at his age it was flattering to receive them at all. He’d raised his children and had his career, of course, but retirement was looming on the horizon, and his wives had some concerns. Penra retired last year, and while his work for the Imperial House was prestigious, two pensions and Riete’s income would only go so far. While they were reasonably fixed for now, Reite only had a few years to go, herself. Adding another to the family could have merit, and Gedris was the best of friends with his sister, after all… and she was certainly keen. Polite, but keen.
“You’re still in charge of the Roll of Wardens, I believe? Ah, that’s wonderful… As it happens, I’m calling on behalf of Lady Sholea, who’s a particular favorite of Princess Ry’lee… Yes, they’re all quite happy… Ah? Well, yes, you have guessed my intentions precisely!” Del said, warming to the conversation and gushing slightly. Gedris was a charming woman and it cost nothing to return the favor. “You know how these things are, but Ry’lee is never in the habit of trading on her station, so of course we’d like to look after the Lady’s needs… No, it's her husband, actually… Mmhmm… No, I’m given to understand he is a veteran, but I don’t have his records. Still, if you could look into it I’d be ever so grateful…?”
Del examined his nails idly as he listened to Gedris go through the motions. Certainly she had the prestige of her office to consider, but with thousands of positions to fill. Still, she’d gone on about the trial of finding a few hundred candidates every year at Kedri’s party.
“Yes? Oh, I’m sure the turnover in winter makes things difficult… Really? That’s wonderful… Hmm? Oh, it’s To’mas Wa’rick. Yes… Yes, I’ll send you the file from our office along with a recommendation - pending your review and approval, naturally.”
“Yes, that’s precisely what I thought too, but I couldn’t place the name! Did he now!? So that’s the fellow. How very extraordinary… No, I agree, it’s wonderful to see a fellow from the rim colonies making good. I very much appreciate you sparing some time on this and… Why yes, I think dinner does sound lovely. Just the four of us? I’ll talk to Penra and Reite and we’ll set something up for next Shel? Yes? Yes, I’m looking forward to it as well… Until then!”
Del hung up the connection with a smile on his face. It was a good day's work, and Ry’lee was a dear. Her requests were so few and far between that no one ever wanted to refuse her.
To’mas Wa’rrick… He’d heard the name, of course. Saving all those school children. Quite marvelous to see a man making a mark in a woman’s galaxy.
Damned odd name for a Shil’vati, but that was the rim worlds for you.
_ _ _
Qadira stared at the menu for the banquet. She’d skimmed through the file several times now without really seeing it, and she pushed the pad away in irritation. She had what she needed. Everything was in place, yet she’d spent the morning out of sorts, fumbling through the documents that crossed her attention. Her triumph was only three days away, yet it felt as though the anticipation was squeezing her chest, a weight on her mind as she worked, making her critical of even the most minor of choices.
At such times she would normally retreat to her apartment and work out of the office there, secure in the outward privacy of her rooms… or the greater privacy of her hidden chamber. It was a sanctuary, but there was too much to attend to. She needed to be out and doing, to be available to the countless scurrying minions that made the Northern Palace function. While she normally detested the woman who oversaw such administrative trifles, just now it would have been damned convenient if she hadn’t left Shil with Kamaud’re.
Even retreating to her palace of memory had become difficult. Normally its rooms and galleries were silent, her trophies on display as she called to mind facts and pondered plans, a shelter within her shelter - but sleep last night had eluded her, and her visit to that place in her mind produced… echoes.
Voices lingered there, a chorus in the background of her thoughts. She had always prided herself in its creation - it was a skill, and it could be learned - and until now it had always been an invaluable asset. Last night was the first time it had become a liability.
She tried to focus on the task at hand, the looming deadline of the banquet made that necessary, but the words on her omni-pad continued to elude her. Her mind raced over the expanse of details, merging into an incomprehensible mess of guests, security menus and minutia. It was an avalanche of expectations and pestering, distracting her from her work.
Her calling.
Voices echoed in her thoughts. Pestering questions, emails and memories merging into one another, as the pressure of the day mounted. The moment of her greatest act was at hand, and Khelira’s death would be…
The menu refused to go away, staring up at her like an accusation, as she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the chaos, but the darkness only intensified the echoes in her mind.
She needed sleep so very badly.
_ _ _
Agent Lamana Duvari considered her quarry as the interview drew to a close. Marakhett, Kzintshki’s mother, was the closest thing to impenetrable she’d ever encountered. Usually subjects gave away something, but Pesrin body language wasn’t merely different. If the woman represented her species at all, it was entirely absent! Her tail twitched occasionally, but otherwise she could have been interviewing a stone.
It was vexing in its fashion, not because she was used to subjects being afraid of her. There was always some fool who thought she was tough enough to hammer rocks with her tits. No, Marakhett was just closed - a void you poured words into and nothing came out of. While her questions were answered satisfactorily, the Pesrin woman embellished nothing. She might as well have been talking to an omni-pad for all the response, and while she’d get back to the Academy with time to spare, the interview didn’t satisfy.
Still, that wasn’t for want of trying.
“I’d like to thank you for your time. This has all been very… straightforward.” She picked up her omni-pad, tucking it away. “Oh… There's just one other thing. I don’t suppose you can provide references for the boy your daughter is seeing?”
An ear twitched.
“Yes, she’s seeing a boy! Parst of the Rithagian. Isn't that just so exciting for your family?” Duvari shrugged, not locking eyes with Marakhett, while her words took on the charade of banal pleasantries at home in the mouth of ‘Professor’ Duvari. “They had a contract with Duchess Elieana a few years before your arrival, though we have no records of their current whereabouts. Didn’t you know?”
The ear definitely twitched.
“My daughter is in the company of a boy? A Pesrin boy?”
…Goddess be praised. A complete sentence…
“Why, yes! He seems to be established at a business known as the Tide Pool. You must be thrilled for her!” Lamana slipped back into her chair. “Your daughter seems above reproach, but I was hoping you might know some details. It's always helpful to establish someone’s intimate circles…”
_ _ _
Oh, don't leave me here alone, Don't tell me that we've grown, For having loved, a little while, Oh, I don't want to be alone. I want to find a home, And I want to share it with you. _ _ _
The IOTC hall had been swept three times by Lt. Tala, who’d sworn there was no way to listen in. Ce’lani relaxed, taking an active interest throughout the meeting. As a professional, she found the planning elements on point, though they struck her as… unusual. It was a jumbled mess, but it was supposed to be… Ordinarily, she liked her missions clearly defined, but if the objective was supposed to be chaos, this was certainly going to cast a wide net. The interesting thing was that while each element was pure chaos, they were redundant. Paths crossing and recrossing, but if one of them failed, two or three others were there to take its place.
She still adored Tom, but as the plan unfurled, it became difficult not to see him in a new light. She’d known that he had a sharp mind, but this was… cunning. Shrewd, calculated and even twisted, but definitely cunning. Miv’eire was there at Tom’s side, and had cast glances her way more often than expected. That was something to think about… She’d sent the note with the music right before the meeting, so they couldn’t have seen it yet, but the way Miv kept looking her way made her nervous. Screwing up the courage to hit send before the meeting had definitely been the right choice.
The Painters were there, in the company of a woman named Marin. The twins… well, they were gifted, and intelligent, but as escorts? The girls were besotted with the Painters and the feeling was clearly mutual, so it was good to see someone sensible taking charge. Still, the malware program they’d created? That was something to worry about, but fortunately it could be someone else’s security nightmare…
Princess Yn’dara and her entire family conferenced in. That explained the program. An agent in the Northern Palace - another Tom, of all things - confirmed the malware was installed in the system. Yn’dara and Adam would be attending the banquet, of course… though the rest of Yn’dara’s kho-wives? THAT was a surprise…
Agent Duvari was there, and actually seemed in good spirits. Often as not, that could be dangerous, but whatever the grinshaw had her claws on, she’d been focused on hammering out all the final details, and minding the IOTC girls. Warrick might be taking over their training, but they were in active service for this event…
Princess Khelira went over the report from Vedeem. He and the IOTC girl confirmed the cadets were trained, and went over the menu. That was… odd… but Tom seemed happy with it all. Still, she added things to the table of equipment along with Setar, while Be’ona sent word to the ground pods. Tala and her pod of EW geeks would be staying in the bunker to handle comms and her element...
Then there were the girls, and the waiters from The Tide Pool…
…If I hadn't seen the wedding I wouldn't have believed it. At least those were school girls! They’re going to give some elderly matriarch a heart attack…
All things considered, would anyone notice?
As the meeting came to a close and Princess Yn’dara logged out, she caught Miv’eire looking her way again. Tom had been talking with Princess Khelira, but just now he was staring at his omni-pad. Ce’lani felt her stomach give a slow roll as his brow drew into a frown…
What the hell!?
_ _ _
Melondi discreetly tucked away her omni-pad as Desi nodded encouragement. “Lady Wicama will help Monsignor Barcio find some good locations. She’ll put him in contact with someone reputable near Prelitauri, so if they get homesick for Human food they’ll have somewhere to eat!”
“I know you haven’t seen much of it, father, but Prelitauri has some really nice areas. Not too expensive yet, but Mister D’saari made a great choice for where to put his restaurant,” Desi chimed in encouragingly, though she glanced back at Melondi with moment’s apprehension before continuing, “If they can afford to buy property, they’ll do even better. Um… Can Monsignor Barcio afford it?”
Tom snorted. “The Vatican? They’re comfortably well off.”
Desi grinned abruptly, catching on. “Like, ‘socially secure’?”
“Very.” Tom chuckled, gazing at Desi jovially. It was clearly a shared joke, and Melondi felt a mixture of happiness for Desi and a hint of jealousy at their private moment. It made her wonder what it would have been like to know her own father.
There wasn't any easy way to say this, but if she couldn't say it now, in front of Desi and Professor Pel’avon, when could she? It felt wrong to interrupt their friendly banter, but she felt the ghost of Lady Wicama’s elocution lessons taking over. She stood her ground and spoke formally, aware she was trying to lend weight to her words. Formalities mattered. That’s why they were formalities to begin with.
“Professor, I haven’t thanked you enough for being willing to do this for me,” she began, her words still feeling awkward given the envy she’d felt only moments before. If this all went wrong, feelings could be hurt, or worse, but she needed to know. “Sir, I don't want this to sound wrong, but… why are you doing this? I’m grateful, but… After the lesson on the war? Please? I need to know why.”
Miv’eire looked as apprehensive as she felt inside, but Tom didn't notice. He paused in fumbling with his omni-pad and shrugged. “The lesson that follows that war? It’s about what happens when there’s no forgiveness.” Tom gazed at her intently. “As you grow older you have to make a choice. One day, you find you have to decide if you’re going to be your best self, or your real self. Choose if you'll be loyal to who you ought to be and live a lie, or who you really are and make the best you that you can. Do you understand?”
“I understand about being Khelira,” she said earnestly, glancing over at Desi. “Learning to be Melondi has taught me a lot about being Khelira.”
“Sort of the same thing. So am I just ‘the professor who teaches you about Humans’, or the guy who sees a problem and says ‘what can I do about it’? I made my choice, and no regrets,” he replied, and his eyes felt tender as he looked at her and Desi. She felt another fleeting moment's jealousy, but the moment gave way to the gratitude welling up inside her. It was a moment in time, and one she could cherish as her own.
Tom returned to prodding at his omni-pad. “Anyway, time to crash and burn, or fly. Let me just check on one thing with Bherdin and we can get out of… What the hell!?
His abrupt exclamation echoed through the room, and silence fell immediately. One of the Captains stumbled, nearly dropping her omni-pad.
“Tom? What’s wrong?” Miv stepped in, looking over his shoulder. “What is it?”
“This! This email!” Tom jabbed at the omni-pad in frustration. “It says I’ve been drafted into something called the Wardens?” He waved the omni-pad absently, before Miv took it from him. “What the hell is that? Drafted!? I’m too old to be drafted!”
“This is obviously a mistake, and I’m sure we can clear this up.” Miv looked at the omni-pad, biting her lip. “The important thing to remember is that this is nobody’s fault… at all.”
“It wasn't me either, but sir, that's wonderful!” Melondi beamed, unable to restrain her excitement. “It's really just an honorary sinecure for veterans! There’s the Main Palace, and North, South, East and West Palaces! Anyway, three shifts a day, two of the Wardens come out to perform the Rite of the Gate. It’s for show these days, but you’ll get to wear the uniform and it provides a honorarium to about… umm 18,000 veterans. It’s nice!”
“Oh!” Desi exclaimed, catching on to her excitement. “You mean the ones in the blue and silver uniform with the hat?!”
“That’s them.” she tried to explain, grinning despite his concerns. “It’s just a one hour ceremony, and there should be a nice stipend.”
“One hour a year?” His look was… dubious, but he was absorbing her words. “That’s all?”
“Just one hour, honestly!” she nodded enthusiastically.
“Father, you shouldn't mind.” Desi took Miv’eire’s hand supportively. “It's a huge honor.”
Professor Pel’avon was nodding, trying to offer a united front. “Besides, you look great in a skirt.”
“Kilt! It’s a kilt!”
_ _ _
Let’zi sat on her bed, gazing out of the window at the gloomy day outside. It was just past noon, but fog billowed across the commons, and the sun was hidden away beyond the black storm clouds rolling past. Not a sound of the chaos outside penetrated her window, shrouding her in the darkness of the storm and silence. The storm would have suited her mood perfectly, if she’d been able to feel anything at all.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the chime at her doorcom. “Let’zi? It's Dihsala. Can I come in?”
It was best to get this over with, and she drew a deep breath in anticipation. “Open…”
She didn’t look back as Dihsala slipped inside, closing the door behind her. “Hi… How are you doing?”
Let’zi closed her eyes in silent supplication to Drepna. This was precisely why she’d never spoken of this to anyone. Her friends had all tried to be supportive that morning, which was wonderful for a time… but it had been easy to see they didn’t fully understand. Why would they? She didn’t want to embarrass and humiliate herself further by trying to explain, and now this. “Fine. I’m fine.”
“Oh… That’s good, then.” There was a sound as Dihsala slid into the chair. She braced herself for the usual platitudes to begin, but to her surprise as the minutes passed, Dihsala sat there without uttering a word, sharing the dim twilight.
Let’zi watched droplets of water run down the window as the silence stretched on. “I embarrassed myself this morning. Sorry.” Dihsala had a tendency to be self-centered, and the very last thing she wanted to hear right now was the world from that perspective. “I’m kind of a mess as a friend right now, but thanks for coming by.”
“Look, Let’zi… I get it. Goddess, it wasn’t that long ago I had to admit my family was cooking our books… I still don’t know what I’m going to do about it over summer, but I get it. Honestly!” Dihsala huffed expansively. “Parents suck. I mean, we’re all here trying to change our worlds, and they’ve forgotten what that’s like. Sure, they want us to be like them… but life isn’t all pretty pictures. They don’t teach us about the things they did wrong. We have to figure it out all on our own.”
“You really think so?” She mumbled, staring sullenly into the gray horizon.
“I know it. I’ll be spending the rest of my life guarding against their mistakes… Sins of the mothers…” Dihsala said quietly before her voice grew firm. “I do get it. And if any of the other girls don’t? Fuck em!”
Silent lightning flashed across the sky, arcing through the growing storm. Outside, the peal of thunder would surely sound like Hele’s own forge, but inside her room, all was lingering silence. She heard Dihsala shift about once, as more minutes passed.
“Did they ever hit you?” She whispered.
“Let’zi? Um…” There was the sound of movement in the chair behind her, and Let’zi closed her eyes, unwilling to even watch the storm. “No, never… Yours did?”
“Yes.” She tucked her legs up against her chest, wishing it was night. It felt like night all the time whenever she remembered. “The first time was on my fourth birthday… My father and mother were there, and my kho-mother, Olana, showed up as a surprise. She’d been deployed, and no one expected her back, you know, and my father made this big dinner. It was nice, until they started drinking. Both her and my mother... And I didn’t finish dinner. It was a big meal… but I didn’t finish my olat beans, and my mothers got into a fight. My father did his best, but they were both standing there over me, and… That was the first time anyone hit me.”
Let’zi still refused to curl into a ball and show her pain. Dihsala had her faults, but she wouldn’t talk.
“She slammed her fist into my shoulder, hard. It hurt and I can still remember being so… scared, maybe, but confused, too. I didn’t know why she was so upset. It didn’t make any sense.” Her mouth felt suddenly dry and she swallowed, wishing Krek would use the rain to sweep her into the sea, but it didn’t happen. “They all just stood there screaming while I cried and tried to finish the olat… Even when they left the room, they kept yelling, so I ran into my bedroom and hid in the closet… I don’t know how long it was until my sister found me.”
She heard Dihsala slip on the bed next to her and felt an arm slip around her shoulder. “No one should go through that alone. Just remember your sister was there.”
“Everything changed after that night. I was just too young to understand.” She shook her head, opening her eyes again but seeing nothing. “I had sisters, but not after that. Not really. After a while my family got my kho-mother’s drinking under control, but there was just nothing after that. Things didn’t get better. Just… nothing.”
“Okay… so no sisters… but I’m your friend.” Let’zi shrugged. “Maybe hard to deal with now and then, but I am your friend.”
In the dark of the storm, it was hard to see Let’zi’s face, even sitting right beside her. “What if someone has no family or friends? What if there's something wrong with me - if I’m a monster and don't know it?”
“If a woman has no family or friends then she might as well jump into the Deeps, but Let’zi, you aren't a monster. Monsters wouldn't ask - and you have friends.” Dihsala said firmly, hugging her quickly before settling back, a black silhouette regarding her in the darkness. “Maybe growing up like that makes it harder to feel like people care, but we do.”
“I was FOUR!!!”
She hadn’t meant to shout, but the words came out like a wail. It filled her with frustration and she pounded the mattress with her fist... and remembered the punch. She stared at her hand woodenly, forcing it to unclench and when she found her voice, her words were low and even… controlled.
“Dihsala? What if we can’t escape how we’re made? What if that’s all growing up is? The older you get, the more pain you have inside, and it just goes on and on?”
“We can’t change growing up.” The words came out carefully, as Dihsala sorted through her own memories. “We depend on our parents to be who we need them to be, and when they fail… it tears you up inside. But growing up means defining yourself. You have to ask if you’re going to be the girl you were then, or if you’re going to become the kind of woman you want to be.”
Let’zi watched as the rain spattered against her window, running down in dark rivulets against the gray sky. “Just like that?”
“I never said it was simple, just that it’s our choice. I’m pretty sure that’s why we pick our husbands and kho-wives the way we do.” Dihsala suddenly leaned back and crooned, “We get by with a little help from our friends!”
The room was still black as pitch in between the lightning, but she blinked in surprise all the same. “I didn’t know you liked Human music?”
“Oh, come on. Seriously, who wouldn’t do Paul?” Let’zi reached over, and turned on the desk light. “And when they’re right, they’re right. You’ll get through this with friends, so you’re covered. Even if you have to bask in my glory – so stop being so gloomy. That’s Kzintshki’s job, and she’s better at it.”
It was a terrible attempt to cheer her up, but somehow she felt less alone all the same. “Bite me.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s her job, too.” Dihsala snorted.
“So you’d ‘do’ Paul?” Let’zi pursed her lips. “Goddess, that sounds so-”
“Honest?” Dishsala tossed her hair back, cocking her head to look at her sharply. “Tell me you wouldn’t bang Paul silly?”
“Fine. I’d bang Paul silly.” she admitted guiltily. Goddess, she could just feel herself turning blue. “Who wouldn’t?”
“Well, Jax’mi and Lark like John, and Nestha likes George.” Dihsala shrugged in answer to her look of disbelief. “Hey, I’m still not comfortable talking around most of them, but I listen… Anyway, that's not as bad as listening to the twins in the bathroom every morning. They like Ringo.”
The snort came unbidden. It wasn’t something a lady should do, but she couldn’t help laughing anyway. “Ringo!? You are kidding!”
“Am not. Get up with me tomorrow! I swear to Niosa they sing ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ in the shower.” Dihsala shuddered and gave an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “One of them belts out ‘Stop!’, and off they go! Every… single… morning!
_ _ _
Hello, my old heart, It's been so long, Since I've given you away. And every day, I add another stone To the walls I built around you, To keep you safe.
_ _ _
Marakhett strode through the bustling lobby of the Tide Pool gripped in horrified fascination. A male Pesrin… here? Dispensing with Agent Duvari’s interview had been her plan from the start, keeping her answers terse yet honest, but the woman’s news made this trip necessary.
The establishment was alive with… activity. Although mostly that seemed to be catering to the mid day meal, and the aroma of countless scents assaulted her while the evidence of other trades was raucously clear. Dispensing with the little Shil’vati who had shown her to a table, she drew out her omni-pad and checked the latest text from Sunchaser, their Pathfinder.
S: Are you sure this is a good idea?
Sunchaser would have accompanied her, but there was no element of danger, and so Marakhett set out minutes after the Interior woman departure, securing her station and texting the Pathfinder on the go.
Sunchaser must have been busy investigating her request, but the response arrived swiftly.
M: Stop bothering me about that. Have you found information on the Rithagian?
S: Sort of. I reached out to the Curmoica. They’re working a contract in the South Reaches and-
M: The Curmoica are mangy aurex thieves. Why are you talking to THEM?
S: We’re all aurex thieves - they’re just sloppy. Anyway, mind the Fifteenth Kahachakt. If a warband has gone missing, it's vital everyone knows. The Curmoica has been in this system longest, and while we dont talk to each other, I am talking to Moonwhisper, the pathfinder for the Marrachton - they’ve got the contract out in the asteroid belt. Stargazer of the Chut’kahat vouches for her. Moonwhisper’s the one talking to the Curmoica, until their Pathfinder is ready to talk to me. Their Pathfinder is young for the job and probably doesn't want to consult her bands mothers before talking to me, but at least she’s willing to share information with Moonwhisper for now, so I’m-
Marakhett felt her fangs bare in frustration. Sunchaser could ramble on forever, turning minutes into hours, but at least they weren't in a Band meeting, now… She hunched over her table, typing furiously.
M: Is there news or isn’t there!?
S: Yes and no. I’d never heard of the Rithagian, but they're in the records. They come from the leeward side of Pesh, so they’re niblifos. So far I’ve confirmed they were working here - for Duchess Elieana, too - but that’s all. I think they’ve gone dark.
Niblifos… so not allies, but not enemies, either. One of the Warbands who’d been too distant to matter. Still, if a warband had gone dark, that was cause for concern - even enemies kept track of one another. The wisdom of Fifteenth Kahachakt meant there were friends, enemies… and everyone else. This far from home, an awareness of everyone else came first.
At least meeting this boy wouldn’t necessarily entail the fight she’d prepared for. It was troubling Kzintshki had not mentioned this Parst yet, but perhaps it was much about nothing. The Agent had been trying to goad her throughout their interview, but if the Rithagian went dark, what would possess them to leave a child… a male… here?
Just as she was about to pester Sunchaser for more information, her nose picked up the scent she’d been seeking. There were countless species thronging this place, the scent of a Pesrin male which had been lingering in the background, grew suddenly stronger. Marrakhett cast about the room…
So that was Parst of the Rithagian. At least now she could understand what the fuss was about. Her daughter’s silence meant Kzintshki was probably stalking with care. That was sensible, given the competition a male would create with her bandsisters.
Parst emerged from a service corridor, assisting two Shil’vati males guiding a dolly laden with food to a table. His fur was as black as her own, though the blaze at his throat ran tantalizingly down his chest. He wore a silly black bow at his neck, though that seemed de rigueur for the staff in this… establishment. She observed him with interest as he finished helping them serve, noting the way he deftly avoided a woman’s attempt to grab his asiak.
In a place where privacy was a commodity, now seemed as good a time to reveal herself. While Parst had his back to her, he stiffened, undoubtedly catching her presence as she lingered in the shadows. She approached silently, and waited as he dismissed the others.
“Hey sexy. I wondered when you’d commmm… Um.” His words froze as he turned to face her. “Hi. Welcome to the Tide Pool.”
_ _ _
Parst’s senses perked up as he detected the familiar scent, though it barely cut through the array of smells from the platters of Helkam fusion cuisine he’d just served at table 61. Despite the lingering aroma, he was sure he’d know that scent anywhere.
Kzintshki. It had to be.
Drawing in another breath, he waved at Abler and Lyrad as they retreated to the kitchen. The lunchtime crowd was in full swing, but he could spare a few minutes. Straightening his bow tie, he drew himself into a formal pose, and suppressed a purr of satisfaction. Kzintshki was dark, spikey, and had a moody temper… Who knew a woman like that could be so damned appealing?
“Hey sexy. I wondered when you’d commmm… Um.” Parst’s words froze as faced the woman before him. Not Kzintshki. Very definitely not Kzintshki, but she smelled just like her.
Oh…Well, fuck, great job there…
He had the presence of mind to remain still, and focused on holding his asiak steady. It had been years since he’d scented a Pesrin besides Kzintshki, but he still remembered the way family scents intertwined. The woman before him had to be related.
“Hi. Welcome to the Tide Pool.”
The woman standing appeared unarmed… at least visibly. The combat vest she wore looked comfortably broken in, and he managed not to swallow at the sight of the kill-rings prominently displayed on her ear. He cautiously took another sniff. Her sable pelt matched his own, though the white blaze at her throat was far smaller…
…Goddess, do I remind Kzintshki of her…
“I am Marakhett,” she said flatly. “You wish to be courted by my daughter.”
… of her mother
Parst’s mind raced as he considered his options. It was certainly true that he was single, and Kzintshki appeared to have a good situation, and in her own unique way she’d made it clear she was interested. Homicidal, but interested. Of course, he’d played it cool - you learned that working at the Tide Pool, if you didn’t want to be pawed by the crowd into fur, and…
…and she hadn’t made it a question. Sweet goddess, what do I say?…
That left fight or flight, while Marakhett stood there scrutinizing him.
“Yes, I do,” he blurted.
…What the fuck? Why did I say that!?!…
“Good. I know my daughter, so kindly do so without pretending you aren’t interested in each other - it’s tiresome.” Marakhett flicked her asiak in a complicated flip that he tried to call to memory as she turned away. “Be true, or else.”
“Or else?” Parst bridled, despite himself. He’d worked hard to put his life together, and while Kzintshki courting him was one thing, being coerced into it was something else! This was his home, Deeps take it! His pelt bristled as he stood his ground. “Or else what? You’ll cut me into wafer-thin pieces?”
Marakhett paused, a hint of fang showing as she regarded him archly. “Or else I tell my band's other daughters all about you… and this place… and possibly even other warbands. I’m sure you’d become very popular.”
…Oh, shit…
_ _ _
Hello, my old heart, How have you been? How is it, being locked away? Don't you worry, in there you're safe And it's true, you'll never beat - But you'll never break…
_ _ _
“Captain?” Ce’lani glanced over at Kalani as she entered Ops. Her sergeant had an apprehensive look on her face. Normally Sgt Diani would linger and be in the middle of some story, while Kalani and Vaeko would be occupied with their Rubik’s block. Pod Six had slipping out of Ops without a word, and the apprehension in Kala’s voice immediately set her on edge.
“What is it?” she asked as she slid into the left seat. “Any updates on station?”
“Perimeter’s secure,” Vae said quietly. “Pod three is on station and reports twelve by twelve.”
“The objective’s secure,” Kala added.
It was the absence of anything else that made her stomach flip. Usually Kala and Vae were plotting over a game or the latest goings on, talking about the coming movie night or arguing over last week’s. This was…
The silence was unsettling, and Ce’lani’s stomach churned into the Deeps. The incident at the meeting had nearly killed her. Thank the goddess that was only her misunderstanding… but now?
Tom always read his mail when he got home.
The Objective was there on screen one, and she ran a check on her board, fighting off the impending dread that tore at her. She feld weighed down as she mechanically reached over and pulled up the camera on his home. He wasn't there, and she switched to the camera in Miv’eire’s apartment.
Tom sat on the couch, clutching his omni-pad. Tears rolled down his face as he sobbed silently.
…Oh... Goddess forgive me, what have I done…
She turned off the camera as her world died inside.
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2023.05.25 10:25 redvelvet108w 4 Star Hotel In Patna: Red Velvet

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At Red Velvet is the top hotel in Patna , exceptional service is at the core of everything it offers. The hotel's dedicated and professional staff is committed to creating an unforgettable experience for every guest. From the warm welcome at the reception to the prompt room service and concierge assistance, every aspect of guest satisfaction
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2023.05.25 06:53 broadcaststatic Hedonism Week: In-Depth Thoughts on French Daze & Ibiza Nights Cruise (Part 2)

Hedonism Week: In-Depth Thoughts on French Daze & Ibiza Nights Cruise (Part 2)
[Continued From Part 1: https://www.reddit.com/VirginVoyages/comments/13r8afi/hedonism_week_indepth_thoughts_on_french_daze/ ]

My wife and I went back to the Wake for breakfast, something you can do easily as a drop-in. We got to sit right in front of the windows. She had one of the best eggs benedicts of her life and I had steak and eggs, a breakfast indulgence I've never actually had before. It's always like $8 more on the menu when paying at a diner. I never bothered in the real world. But this isn't a diner or the real world, this is the land of do-as-you-please, and they brought me one hell of a steak.

The Ol' Wake & Wake
Before arriving at Palma, I tried to sample some of what I had been missing on the ship. Against my expectations, my favorite was the Loose Cannon. I wasn't interested initially based on the looks of the place and the fact that rum isn't a flavor I usually enjoy, but they had all sorts of tequila and mezcal stuff like this one drink that's like watermelon, mezcal and a shake of activated charcoal that looks like gunpowder for theme and helps with nausea for function. Plus a jaunty sprig of mint. It's the most singularly delightful cocktail I ever ordered. It's like that all over the ship, though. In keeping with the emotional design, whisky and champagne receive more upscale treatments-- On the Rocks is a whisky Bar modeled with low lighting and rich velour to evoke a kind of conspiratorial, old-Vegas Rat Pack vibe. It's very effective, and to drink whisky in a sport coat at the bar makes a fella feel awfully cool. Sip, the Champagne bar, seems most active during the day when the older crowd runs the boat and the younger crowd is sleeping or out on land. Like its beverage, it's bright and luxurious, the most opulently wealthy of all the bars. And the most expensive if you buy by the bottle. One aspect of the cruise where you don't really get good value is with volume liquor like whole bottles of whatever. The cocktails, at 12-17 a piece, are the same price as most city bars and you pay for presentation. But big box wine stores like BevMo or whatever sell Moet and Chandon Imperial for like $45. On the ship, it's $98. For whole bottles of anything, the baseline seems to be double the American box store price. By contrast, you can get a very large beer in an elegant flute for like $6. My favorite secret dirtbag maneuver at Sip is that you can order a Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers, for like five bucks and they'll crack the can and decant it for you all fancy-like as if you had paid $300. To me, that's impressive service-- to be treated as if I was living, well, the High Life even though I wasn't quite willing to pay that much. To be respected in my cheapness and given the fantasy of being in such an environment anyway, treated as if I belong among the Imperial crowd. I think that was the moment they broke me, in terms of being skeptical of Virgin Voyages as a corporate, curated experience. They promised me I could voyage my way, and I absolutely was, living my best life with my five dollar French Roulette plays and five dollar decanted beers. That's a lot for a Miller High Life. But a small price, really, for the radiant thrill of the moment and how happy it makes me to remember it now.

A Loose Cannon 'Shot-To-Pus'
Sailing into Palma, we went to the Dock House, their small plates mediteranean eatery and bar. It's on the lower stern of the ship, making it the ideal place to view any of the ship's comings and goings from port. It's spectacularly scenic and features both chairs and beds to lounge around and soak in the atmosphere of wherever the ship happens to be. I think it's one of my top three favorite spots on the ship, the plates are addictively good and the drinks are so crazy on theme for the Balearic Islands. There's a whisky drink called a Fig Sour that easily takes the silver medal for my second favorite cocktail I had on the ship, it's so rich and well balanced and feels like just pure joy to drink while watching the surprisingly large city of Palma slowly draw into view.

The Palma Cathedral
The best beaches on Mallorca are known to be on the North side of the island, an hour away by bus or taxi, called Alcudia. In planning, I had wanted to make that journey, but my wife and I felt like what with the bonus trains to Carcassonne and Monte Carlo we had done enough voluntary transit and wanted to explore the city of Palma itself. Which was a wonderful choice-- the city is much like Barcelona, but kind of shrunken down and tidier. It has its own La Rambla, its own winding Gothic District of sorts. It has one of the largest Cathedrals in all of Europe, dominating the skyline as the Valiant Lady docks at Palma's cruise terminal. There's a large and rambunctious commercial district, with brand name boutiques tucked inside of three hundred year old buildings, the whole thing a strange kind of historical echo of the way Palma has been for centuries. Palma has always been a nexus for luxury goods from far-flung ports. The goods are now more familiar and standardized, but the echo is still there, these are still the same streets that once flowed with leather and spice from a pre-satellite world, when the globe was more uncertain.

Palma At Night
Intoxicating is really the word, it's not enough to call it charming. To an American, it feels like something out of a fairy tale, which Palma storeowners are clever to monetize where possible. It is touristy, yes, but again it's actually very counterproductive to pretend I am not a tourist. I am having an authentic experience by being authentically stunned and amazed by the winding streets and seemingly limitless boutiques. Once the businesses begin to shut down, the city quiets, and the well-lit streets become very mysterious and intriguing. When the wandering impulse is satisfied, a taxi can be easily found to go back to the cruise terminal and fall into bed. Or have a few drinks at the Manor and dance. Or maybe more than a few. I'm easy, that way-- fundamentally all I want is just to party, party party, party party 'til I die.

The Manor Nightclub Aboard Valiant Lady


The Valiant Lady at Palma
At like 2:45 in the morning my wife has me order double vodka redbulls, takes one sip, and decides to go to bed. So I, in the spirit of hedonism week, down both and fall immediately asleep. At nine in the morning I sit bolt upright in bed and think "I sure would hate to have missed seeing the Castell up above the town and I doubt we'll have time for it later." I fling open the blinds to a beautiful day. "Want to hike up to castle, baby?" I ask. "You're a fucking freak of nature," she hisses, using the room tablet to close the blinds again. At first I took it the wrong way, but I had forgotten about the vodka red bulls. When she told me about that, after walking two miles to the tallest hill in Palma and then three more flights of stairs, and back, thinking to myself "I'm a little dizzier than usual this morning, wonder if I'm finally seasick or what," I had to admit that when it comes to points of historical interest I am in fact a freak of nature and will push my body to the stupidest extremes with a smile on my face if it means getting to see a castle. This kind of freak behavior is why they give you two carafes of fresh, cold water every day in your room. You'll probably end up really, really, really needing it.

Castell de Bellver
The Castell de Bellver has the best views of Palma possible, and also the best views of the Valiant Lady while docked in port. There's a trail to the summit that begins at the end of the Carrer de Bellver that leads up to the grand, rounded Castell. The steps are exhausting, especially so if you wake up drunk without realizing it, but the breeze is strong and every few steps provides a new vista. I never expected to actually like the cruise ship as a ship, but it's very handsome and impressive, the portholes and red accents and lack of any children's slides and playsets make the thing just flatly impressive. The previous night it had turned some of its balcony lights red to display a friendly red 'HOLA' to the city as it rested in port. From top to bottom, it is designed to feel contrastingly adult, contrastingly luxurious to the more traditional cruise ships. The Valiant Lady was only built in 2021, according to the big iron plaque that proudly identifies the vessel above the pool area. I feel, aboard the ship, more worldly and cosmopolitan than I ever have before and even if the ship is designed to falsely flatter me that way, I do feel flattered, I do feel like my best self, it inspires me to do ambitious things like party til' 3AM and hike at 9AM. Inside the Bellver is a lot of roman artifacts and statuary, from way back when Palma was part of the Rome's vast mediterranean empire. Perhaps it's because I was still a little drunk, but I was struck by this nude statue.

A Ghost of Hedonism Past
It was made with such a loving care. Two thousand years ago, the artists of Palma were carving tributes to their baddies that are still extremely attractive millenia later. Art appreciation isn't just being pretentious, it's appreciating the intent, and in this case the intent is "Aren't women beautiful? Isn't life beautiful?" When I got back to my sleeping wife, I brought her breakfast in bed as a peace offering, snuggling up to her in our balcony terrace room. Humans are mammals in addition to all our other affectations, we want to eat well, sleep well, and most of all we want to be loved. Same now as it was 2,000 years ago. That feeling I had of being somewhere that fucking Homer had described as the wine-dark sea, actually looking at my own eyes at the deep purple brine that inspired that phrase, was worth almost any price to me. As an American, I grew up unmoored from global history, and here in Palma I finally felt as if I had dropped anchor into the heart of the classical era.
In a Roman mood, we ate pasta at the ship's Italian restaurant, Extra Virgin. I had heard from a lot of people that this was one of the best places to get food on the ship, but I couldn't work up that much enthusiasm about it. Like every other space on the ship, the atmosphere and design of the restaurant is top notch. The ingredients are upscale and impressive sounding, but the effect is kind of flat. This was the only restaurant that I couldn't immediately remember when I ate there and what I had. It was good, I know, it's silly to complain at all because the standard of quality for the food is incredibly high, even here, but without more of a thematic or culinary hook the place kind of slides anonymously in between some of the other on-board dining experiences.

Preparing to Hear The Tale
Every Virgin Voyages cruise has what's called 'Scarlet Night' a boatwide party where you're encouraged to wear red. They kick it off with an amazing vocal performance by the Hostess, who is in addition to being very charming an incredibly powerful jazz vocalist. She's a serious talent. I was really blown away, having gotten a chance to listen more closely at the 'Hostess Sings Her Secrets' show which tells the part lore in a short bit of musical storytelling. I missed most of the on-ship entertainment because I was either partying or adventuring or sleeping, but I'm a sucker for lore, so a party with lore was intriguing to me. Up on the pool deck, once the party begins, you're encouraged to dance in their shallow bathing pool. It feels awesome to do so, freeing and wild, a real '90s romcom moment but actually happening to you. I was all geared up for a long and varied Scarlet Night, but the friends my wife and I made at Gunbae were a form of ship royalty, they had purchased the Mega Rockstar Suite, with a bottomless bar package, and we were invited to party there. This was a special and remarkable thing to happen, not just for the glimpse into the Lifestyles of Suite and Famous, but also just to make such free and easy social connections on the boat. There's a meme I like that's "How to Make Friends in Your '30s" and it shows a man drawing a pentagram on the ground, summoning a goat demon, and then handing the demon a basketball to shoot some hoops. Sometimes it feels like black magic to actually make new friends. But the boat is like summer camp and prom rolled up into one for people much too old to really go back to either without the buffer of this cruise ship experience. The next day we were going to dock in Ibiza, and so one person put on The Vengaboys "We're Going to Ibiza" and then everyone sang along to every word, and then someone said "Okay, but like, we actually are this time," and that was just so fucking nuts. It's perhaps common wisdom that if your reference point for Ibiza is the Vengaboys you are too old for Ibiza, but I'm going to say that you are not, like everything on the cruise you get back the energy you put in. Tell yourself you can do it. Believe in yourself. Ride your inner Vengabus, because it is comin', and everybody is jumpin'.
Because our cruise was so underbooked, our host was able to get their Mega Rockstar Suite for the minimum bid plus one dollar on the odd little 'bid on an upgrade' email you get. I couldn't afford more than the Sea Terrace XL even as an upgrade, I was overspending with that already, but holy hell do you get the works with the top level price. The bottomless bar is bottomless. Since the price of the Mega Rockstar is something like ten grand, I wouldn't say the booze is complimentary, but it is acknowledged that you have paid enough and need pay no more. In addition to bottomless room bar you get $200 daily on board bar tab for craft cocktails and wine and such. Plus a personal concierge and priority access to everything. And your own private hot tub and open-air shower-- above the bridge and the Captain themselves. Even symbolically, that's King Shit. It's just absurd in every way-- on a ship designed to make even the cheapest customer feel like royalty, how do you one-up the baseline experience? Well, by essentially completely eliminating the need to worry about the price of anything aboard. True fantasy-- everything you want, essentially prepaid beyond the rate at which you could possibly spend that much money anyway. With a couch and a living room and guitars and a telescope and, like, fuck, dude. I was a little sad not to have seen more of Scarlet Night itself, but I caught instead a glimpse of what Virgin Voyages offers as opulence-within-opulence, the most glorious peaks of the self-indulgence it can provide. Trying to be a good guest, I offered to venmo our host back for what I was drinking. They explained to me that bottomless really means bottomless with the in-room bar. And so I opened my second bottle of Moet Imperial of the trip, the effervescent vapor of extravagant luxury wafting up at me. I was a guest. It's only a week. But I was, perhaps, a little disappointed in myself for how quickly I came to crave these little tastes of the good life I had found so impossibly distant in my twenties. What would me at 18 think of me here, at 35, downing champagne on such a ship, hanging out in such a suite even as a guest? Angry? Irritated? Relieved that I had made it so far? Was this a kind of fulfillment of who I used to be and how hard I used to work or a betrayal of it? My wife and I had been together for a decade, and had never taken a trip like this, never dreamed of it before. It was so far beyond what we were used to. And that's also how they get you. I'll obey this subreddit's no drug discussion policy in my anecdotes and metaphors, but man-oh-man, when it comes to luxury that first taste really does fuck with your brain chemistry in the craziest ways.


'Music On' at Pacha, around 2AM
Pacha is, in a way, also a point of historical interest. It is a disco nightclub that has been going every spring, summer, and fall for fifty consecutive years. It's hard and extortionately expensive to get tickets, but they're cheaper the farther in advance you get them. If you want to go to Pacha or another Ibiza superclub, you should make a plan and buy your club tickets the moment you book your cruise dates to lock in admittance at the lowest price. I was a little worried about purchasing through the Ibiza Spotlight, a local weekly that coordinates ticket sales, but my wife, my friends, and I got in through the prepayment line in short order using the ticket barcodes from Ibiza spotlight on my phone with no problem. Pacha was the biggest challenge of the trip-- physically, emotionally, financially. It is a lawless and awful place that also serves as the most extreme version of the mega nightclub experience a person can find themselves in. Every one star and five star review you may have read about Pacha are simultaneously accurate and true. The party (Music On), begins at midnight and goes until seven in the morning. I was too old for this shit. But my heart wanted to be young this way. I had sworn my solemn vow to Party Til I Died, and this was as dangerously close to that line as I was going to get.

Ibiza's Old Town Commercial District
Ibiza operates during its on-season in a staggered rotation of events and meals. During the morning there is nothing. During the afternoon there are shops and lunch places open, serving the day crowd, or beach raves for the rowdy among the tourists. Then the food closes and the rest of the shops open until ten or so. The dinner places go from like 8 to 10 at night. Ten to midnight is a transition zone, everything closes down and the bars begin to slowly open one by one until midnight when the nightlife springs into furious action.
Pacha is the kind of nightclub that would be illegal in the United States on like every level. They don't seem to believe in capacity, the whole place is a sea of bodies, butt-to-butt-to-butt in stifling and vaguely dangerous drifts of rhythmic dancers, between which move fragile trains of partiers on their way from one end of the dance floor to another, a journey they may not ever actually finish. Each DJ bathes the place in a different color, creating a slightly different mood, but the crowding never improves. It's important to take breaks and go outside to the patio, no matter how hard it is to get back to the dance floor, just for the air. The absolute most predatory thing is that they charge for water-- not only charge a little, they charge 10 Euro for a red bull can full of still or sparkling water. It's literal extortion considering the sobriety situation of 99% of the crowd. From midnight until like 4:30 in the morning, it's a wild mess of sweat and movement, stuck somewhere in between joy and misery at any given moment.
And yet.

'Music On' at Pacha, closer to 6:30 AM
These early hours of the Pacha party are a crucible, a harrowing. This is a test to see who is here to fucking party and who is truly a tourist. Around 5 in the morning, the dance floor begins to become actually comfortable to dance. My wife and I were led by our friends up a staircase to an upper deck by the light technicians, offering an incredible panorama. My wife commented it looked kind of like a circle of hell. In Dante's Inferno, the lustful are condemned to be borne on howling winds for all eternity, swirling around in an impulsive chaos that reflects how they allowed themselves to be led around by the genitals in life. Always figured that's where I'd end up myself, if gluttony didn't overtake it as number one favorite sin. Or maybe going to a bunch of Cathedrals before going to Pacha puts you in a weird headspace, I don't know. But all those arms, all those bodies, waving and blending together in the strobe light. It makes me wish there an oil painting titled like 'The DJ Booth by Caravaggio', it was so unreal to witness, so humid, so dense with humanity and emotion which the DJ manipulates up and down with the beat. The party really reaches its peak of enjoyability and energy at six in the morning, that last hour has an impossibly intense atmosphere of anticipation. When the DJ finally stopped teasing the last drop and ended his set, fifteen minutes after seven in the morning, when the hexagon panels retracted and the house lights came on, the sense of release and catharsis was unlike almost any sensation I'd ever experienced. My wife and I walked all the way back to the ship in the morning sunshine, colorful and gorgeous and blissfully quiet. I felt like I had wrung out my brain like a dirty cloth, and now it was ready to work again.

Holy Fuck Is It Morning Out Here Or What
Before Pacha, my wife and I used our three hour pass to the on-board Redemption Spa while the ship was rolling into port. I had never been to a spa, but I have to admit it's an important component of Hedonism Week. The spa is all about contrasting sensation-- cold pools followed by hot pools, dry saunas followed by wet saunas, followed by a shocking, bracing dip in cold clear water. My favorite thing was just the heated marble platforms by the window. I felt so relaxed, like an animal in the sun, unburdened by anything, content in every way. They offer a mud treatment kind of thing included in the Splash of Romance package where they give you a small cup of treated mud that you rub all over yourself and then stay in an extra hot, extra humid steam room for ten minutes sweating into before rinsing off with cold water. It's supposed to pull all your bad stuff from your pores, which I don't know is true or not, but I did enjoy the sensation and did feel refreshed. That sense of using extreme sensations of hot and cold, of comfort and discomfort, was what I experienced in such an otherwise opposite way at Pacha. Both were a cleanse of sorts, a strange and violent purging of the poisons I carry with me, and I felt grateful to have experienced both. To experience both on the same day, though-- baby, that's Hedonism Week.
Our final restaurant experience on board was at Pink Agave. We had the most delightful, enthusiastic hostess of the whole trip, she ordered a little of everything for our group of four and took such good care of us that we forgot, for a moment, how exhausted we were. Following Pacha, I slept almost straight through to the ship's final cast-off of the voyage. Almost. As I've mentioned, the only thing I love more than partying is visiting old castles, so I couldn't let Ibiza slip by without hauling by aching feet and overtwerked ass to the top of the famous Dalt Villa. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Dalt Villa is the oldest part of the Ibiza as a port town. The entrance gate was constructed in the 1500s and holds Roman statues dating many centuries older. The church at the top, built in the 1400s, was closed at the time, but I got one last view of the town I'd visited and ship I'd grown so fond of. It was an excellent way to say goodbye. After sailing out of Ibiza, you only have one more night to party it down, pack, and go home.

The Valiant Lady from the Dalt Villa
It's a sad time on the ship, bittersweet, which is why they close it down with the 'Circus Disco' , an acrobatic performance to classic, mellow hits of the '70s and '80s. Then everyone joins in on the dancefloor as the BeeGees sing you off to to your final limit of exhaustion and sleep, merciful sleep, finally catches up with you until your disembarkation time. Hedonism week has concluded. Reality has to resume. I didn't think I would struggle to let go so much, but I did. In the past week or so, I truly had been my best self, my most favorite version of myself, and while I can take that home with me I just didn't ultimately want to stop being in the place that made it so easy to find that self.

Goodbye, Ibiza

A number of years ago I had a bad depression and gained a bunch of weight, and so for years I dressed myself with a sense of shame. Whenever I went shopping I found the denim equivalent of "I'll wear the sackcloth, please." Before this trip, in anticipation of it, I bought myself a lot of stylish stuff that actually fit the body I had. I wore a lot of it for the first time this trip. I felt, for the first time in years, incredibly handsome, and interesting, and powerful, because I was putting effort into being all those things and acting all those ways. I have never pushed myself so hard, or felt more adult. I had what felt like truly an adventure of a lifetime, a journey into hedonic pleasure and exotic landscapes and dozens of flavors and smells and sensations I had never known to want. I know that's not everyone's experience on the ship. But it was mine. I put in every ounce of energy I had and the return on that investment was absolutely enormous.
What I think is especially amazing is the diversity of passengers and passenger experiences on board the ship and how, simultaneously, 1300 people were experiencing their own personal version of that best self. For many, pushing oneself to the extremes of exploration, sensation, and exhaustion is not their idea of a vacation. And that more relaxing experience is there too, already on offer as part of the many curated experiences. No one attitude, gender, sexuality, age, or set of interests dominated the ship's demographic, it was always an exciting froth of everything and everyone mixed together.
The Valiant Lady's staff deserves particular credit for making that happen. They act as janitors, waiters, porters, and ringmasters, managing the vices and messes of 1300 people all acting on pure id. So when you see folks complaining on this subreddit about having to work through technical problems or minor language barriers, this is kind of insulting in the face of what an amazing job the crew does of keeping the mood and visual standard of the ship constant and on track. The job of creating an adult fantasyland that's only 60% fantasy and 40% actual reality is a colossal amount of work, and they keep that shit running, well, ship shape every single day 24/7 while the passengers worry about very little other than impulse. Any luxury experience is the peak of a pyramid supported by a massive service infrastructure. Often on the Valiant Lady, that infrastructure is invisible. Without it, though, it would not have been the transformative and beautiful experience it was. I could not have felt my best self without so many people being their most professional selves, and I'm quite grateful for the many hands that made that possible.
More than anything, what I wanted to give my wife for her birthday was something that made her feel special. While I feel a complicated way politically about my experience, I don't feel any kind of complexity about being good to my wife and giving her a chance to experience unencumbered joy. She got that. We got to have a weeklong, incredibly intense date that we can carry with us always now, who we were on the trip, how we felt about each other. Erotic treats aside, it truly was a second honeymoon in every meaningful way. All I really expected was an all-inclusive hotel that moves. What I got was a sampler platter of sensation and fantasy that my wife and I ate from until the very moment the week was over and we were exiled from the buffet.
So if you want to know what the profit model of Virgin Voyages is, that's the grift in a nutshell: I felt better and more myself on this cruise than nearly anything I've ever done. And I would pay through the nose to come crawling back, to dine once more at the table of sensation. I felt like if I posted this anywhere else on social media, it would seem like sponsored content, and I hate that. But here among, well, fellow travelers so to speak I feel good about telling this story. You guys get it. Hopefully I'll see you out there. Because I'm going to be chasing this experience for a long time.

Portal to Adventure, Ibiza
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2023.05.24 10:20 redvelvet108w Top Hotel in Patna 4 Star Hotel in Patna The Red Velvet

The Red Velvet is the top hotel in Patna, a luxurious and unforgettable experience to its guests. The Red Velvet is the best Hotel near Patna railway station, Red Velvet boasts unparalleled convenience, exceptional amenities, and a commitment to providing top-notch hospitality. From its well-appointed rooms to its state-of-the-art meeting and banquet facilities, along with its delectable dining options, Red Velvet truly stands out as the premier choice for travelers and locals alike.
Red Velvet is renowned as a 4 star hotel in Patna for its opulent and comfortable accommodations. The hotel features a range of elegantly designed rooms and suites that are meticulously appointed to cater to the needs of discerning guests. Each room is tastefully furnished, offering a harmonious blend of modern amenities and classic charm. From plush bedding to stylish decor, every detail has been carefully considered to create a relaxing and indulgent atmosphere for guests. The rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including high-speed internet access, flat-screen televisions, and in-room safes, ensuring a seamless and convenient stay.
One of the standout features of Red Velvet is the best hotel near Patna Junction. This prime location makes it an ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers who appreciate easy accessibility. Patna Junction is a major transportation hub, connecting the city with various parts of India, making Red Velvet a preferred choice for those arriving by train. The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service to and from the railway station, ensuring a hassle-free arrival and departure experience for guests.
Red Velvet is not only a luxurious accommodation option but also an excellent choice for hosting corporate meeting hall in Patna, conferences, and social events. The hotel features well-equipped meeting hall in Patna and banquet hall in Patna, designed to accommodate a range of gatherings, from intimate board meetings to grand receptions. The halls are spacious and versatile, offering state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, high-speed internet connectivity, and professional event planning services to ensure that every occasion is a resounding success. The dedicated team at Red Velvet is committed to providing personalized service, ensuring that every detail is taken care of, from seating arrangements to catering requirements.
For those seeking a stunning venue to celebrate special moments, Red Velvet's banquet hall in Patna is the perfect choice. Whether it's a wedding, anniversary, or any other joyous occasion, the hotel offers a memorable setting that exudes elegance and sophistication. The banquet hall in Patna can be customized to suit individual preferences and accommodates a large number of guests. The team of experienced event planners and culinary experts at Red Velvet works closely with clients to create bespoke menus, ensuring that every culinary desire is met. With impeccable service and attention to detail, Red Velvet guarantees a flawless and unforgettable celebration.
Red Velvet takes pride in its exceptional dining options known as Ambrosia restaurants, offering an array of culinary delights to satisfy every palate. The hotel has best restaurant in Patna, showcases a menu crafted by renowned chefs, featuring a fusion of local and international flavors. From delectable regional specialties to international cuisines, every dish is prepared using the freshest ingredients, ensuring an unforgettable gastronomic experience. The restaurant's elegant ambiance and attentive service further enhance the dining experience, making it an ideal choice for both intimate dinners and lively gatherings.
In the heart of Patna, Red Velvet reigns supreme as the finest 4-star hotel in Patna near the railway station. With its luxurious accommodations, convenient location, state-of-the-art meeting and banquet facilities.
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2023.05.24 07:07 Sunnykarhana6263 Places to Visit in California

Certainly! Here's the information from the article "From the Coast to the Mountains: 10 Unforgettable Places to Visit in California" written in English:
California is a diverse and captivating state, offering a wide range of landscapes and attractions. From its stunning coastline to its majestic mountains, there are countless unforgettable places to explore. Here are 10 must-visit destinations in California:
  1. San Francisco: Known for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and vibrant neighborhoods like Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco is a cultural hub with breathtaking views.
  2. Los Angeles: Home to Hollywood, Los Angeles boasts famous attractions like the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, and the Getty Center. Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica for a taste of the city's glamour.
  3. Yosemite National Park: A nature lover's paradise, Yosemite National Park is renowned for its towering granite cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, and pristine wilderness. Hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife spotting are popular activities here.
  4. Lake Tahoe: Straddling the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by picturesque mountains. Enjoy water sports, hiking, and skiing in the winter months.
  5. Napa Valley: Wine enthusiasts should not miss Napa Valley, a premier wine-growing region. Take a scenic drive through vineyards, indulge in wine tastings, and savor gourmet cuisine at world-class restaurants.
  6. Big Sur: Located along California's central coast, Big Sur offers dramatic coastal views, rugged cliffs, and secluded beaches. The famous Bixby Creek Bridge and McWay Falls are must-see attractions.
  7. Santa Barbara: Known as the "American Riviera," Santa Barbara is a charming coastal town with Spanish-influenced architecture, beautiful beaches, and a lively arts scene.
  8. Joshua Tree National Park: This desert oasis is famous for its unique Joshua trees, massive rock formations, and surreal landscapes. Experience incredible stargazing opportunities and enjoy hiking and rock climbing.
  9. San Diego: With its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, San Diego is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore the world-class San Diego Zoo, visit Balboa Park, and enjoy the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter.
  10. Death Valley National Park: As one of the hottest places on Earth, Death Valley offers a fascinating and otherworldly experience. Marvel at the salt flats, sand dunes, and colorful canyons that make up this unique desert landscape.
Whether you're seeking natural beauty, cultural experiences, or urban adventures, California has it all. These 10 unforgettable places offer a taste of the state's diverse attractions and should be on every traveler's bucket list.
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2023.05.23 15:10 blackkettle Five Week Trip Report: April-May; Kansai, Kanto; Previous long-term resident family


We are a family of three. I previously lived in Japan for about 10 years. My wife is Japanese from the Kansai region, and we have a 6 year old son born and raised abroad, but who speaks/reads/writes Japanese at a native or near-native level for his age. My wife and son traveled back to Osaka several times during Covid, but I did not join them due to the additional logistics requirements at the time, and the sense that it would not be particularly enjoyable. Prior to covid we would typically spend about 4-5 weeks a year in Japan, but this was our first long day-in-the-life trip together in the past four years.
It was a phenomenal trip, and I wanted share what we did. Our trip is probably a little bit unconventional compared to most of the reports here as we all speak Japanese and are very familiar with Japan having lived there for quite some time in the past. Our main goals for our trip were to provide our son with immersion opportunities, to meet family, and to visit with old friends. We lived for many years in both Osaka and Tokyo and I have relatives in Shizuoka. We also love craft beer, games, and quirky museums; I think our trip itinerary reflects all of this.

General Pre-trip Preparation:

Our son is a second-year kindergartener in Zurich, Switzerland, but he also speaks Japanese and attends a Japanese school part time. He's very outgoing and enjoys new adventures (probably because we have been dragging him around to San Diego or Osaka almost every year for most of his life). This year we thought it would be interesting if he could experience a real Japanese elementary school during our stay. To this end about 2 months before we left, my wife contacted the local elementary school near her parents house in Osaka and inquired about the possibility of doing a short 'study abroad' (体験留学) at some point during our stay. To our surprise she received a prompt reply from the school principal, who was very enthusiastic about the prospect, and happy to arrange all the details upon our arrival. Apparently he had previously worked at an international school and had a very positive outlook on this sort of interaction. Final details were to be determined on site in a short family interview in order to get a sense of our son's Japanese ability and disposition.
We typically spend our long-term stays with our relatives but this time we decided to break our trip up into several stages: Osaka at Home, Osaka at Large, Return to Tokyo, Shizuoka, Osaka at home. The remainder of the report is broken up accordingly.

Part 1: Osaka-at-Home I.

The first week we flew in to Osaka KIX from Zurich via Seoul, and took the Hello Kitty Express :-) directly into Umeda where we met up with family and went straight to a Yakiniku experience at Yakiniku Toraji on the B2 floor of the Lucua building at Umeda. At first we planned to make the journey home to drop off our luggage but after we realized that the airport express now drops you off at essentially the Lucua B1, we decided to just head straight to dinner. Needless to say, it was epic. We grabbed some bread and pastries for the following morning and headed home with mom and dad.
Masks; Even on first arrival it was clear that we made the right decision to come after the covid restrictions finally lifted. Everything was open, and people were out. Roughly 90+% of people were still wearing masks everywhere, but this percentage steadily declined over the duration of our stay to, I would say, 65%-70% by the time we left on May 20th. We chose not to wear them, and my MIL/FIL were also not wearing them. At no point during the trip did I feel there was any concern about this in either direction. Anyone traveling in the near future should feel completely free to go whichever way you prefer.
During the first week we sorted out our jet lag, and spent a lot of time roaming around conbinis and the supermarkets remembering all the little delicious nothings that Japan has to offer. We stayed with mom and dad in Ebie, Fukushima, right on Yodogawa. This is about 5 min bike ride from Nodahanshin station, and 10-15min ride to Fukushima station or Umeda. We made all these rides many times during our stay! We made some mellow probing adventures:
Prepaid SIMs. I still have to answer emails and typically work on-and-off during these trips. One of the reasons we are able to do it is because I work in IT. This means it's always important to get a good prepaid SIM. On my last visit, four years ago I was able to find a great deal on a prepaid SIM at Yodobashi in Umeda, so one of my first orders of business was to repeat that experience this time. However after discussing with the sales and purchasing a SIM with 50GB for 1mo @ Y8000, I found out that it did not permit tethering. This was stated as a 'possibility' in the fine print and when I asked at purchase time the sales person said they couldn't guarantee it but thought it should work. I gambled and lost. This was quite annoying given the main purpose of purchasing a high volume prepaid SIM was for tethering to my laptop. Anyway as a result I discovered the eSIM tech which was also supported by my iPhone 14. I ended up buying another eSIM plan using Ubigi and this worked great and supported tethering without issue throughout my trip. It also worked great for our short return stop in South Korea. I'll never go back to prepaid physical SIMs and I still cannot believe that Docomo is still blocking tethering in 2023. Completely ridiculous.
Exercise: I am an avid swimmer and cyclist. Since we typically stay for around 1 month I like to be able to continue my swim workouts while we are in Japan. Cycling isn't a problem since we end up biking and walking all over the country anyway. I always join the Konami Sports Club network for 1 month as a regular member the first day we arrive. They provide a bunch of different plans and most of the Type III and Type IV gyms in the network have a 25SCM lap pool. If you join the network you can use any of facilities anywhere in the country, which is great if you spend time in more than one city. The Type III and Type IV facilities all have really great bath house areas as well, with multiple sento-style baths and usually a big sauna. You need to make sure that you join and quit on the same day (or at least in the same week) so that your membership will be properly cancelled at the end of the first billing cycle. This might be tough if you don't speak Japanese well, but if you do the staff is super accommodating and will definitely help you make it happen. In addition to the exercise, one thing I really like about doing this is that it gives me another day-in-the-life experience; it's like living there again; doing things that locals do. The Kitahama facility in Osaka is particularly nice; It's a new one and it's my favorite.
Internet Cafes: I worked on and off during the trip and usually do work days at local internet cafes. The three I liked best during this trip were:
Cycling: We keep a couple of momma-charis at my in-laws place, including one with a kid-seat on the back. We did plenty of riding and my son loves the unique-to-him experience of riding on the back of the bike. We considered getting him his own bike this year, but eventually decided against it due to the complex traffic. Osaka is pretty easy to get around in by bicycle in terms of terrain - there are very few hills in the city proper, however the traffic is a little bit gnarly. Midosuji street is a great example of this. It runs in a mostly straight line from Umeda/Osaka station, across Oebashi and Yodobashi past Osaka city hall, and down through Dotonbori to Namba. It's a cool little ride if you have the time and inclination and it is mostly flat. It runs only in one direction for most of this length however many Japanese cyclists seem to not be aware of this fact. I was surprised/amazed/terrified by how many people I encountered riding against the flow of traffic on this quite busy street. Plenty of mama-charis with kids on back as well. It's pretty chaotic and not for the faint of heart! That said I enjoy the rides and the people watching and the adventure that a little chaos can provide as long as you keep your eyes open.
As I mentioned, we love craft beer, and we particularly love Hazy IPAs in all their various forms. We made it a point in this trip to explore this aspect of Japan as it seems to have really exploded in popularity since our last visit. We followed (hazy_mmy)[https://www.instagram.com/hazy_mmy/?hl=en] for some great ideas outside the brewpubs.
We wrapped up this mini pub crawl with a walk through the Kitahama/Yodoyabashi area in the evening. This is more of business district but it actually has some interesting novel historical sites. There are a number of cool Meiji Era buildings with large explanatory placards. These are predominantly in Japanese and maybe a bit obscure, and you also won't be able to enter most of them, but if you are into this sort of thing it's can be a fun bonus. I'm guessing google translate in photo mode can get you most of the way through the placards:
there are a bunch more, these just happen to be the ones that caught our eye as we passed by on our mini pub crawl.

Part 2. Osaka-at-Large

We spent roughly our first two weeks in Osaka, but in order to get a change of pace and give our family a break, we opted to spend the second week in an apartment-hotel near Umeda. This was a great decision and a lot of fun. We were able to host friends, had even better access to Umeda and could relax and enjoy the city from a fresh angle.
We spent 7 nights in the rooftop luxury suite at Minn Kita Umeda and it was epic. My wife booked this about 6 months in advance and it was worth every last yen. The room was spacious and quiet with two large comfy beds. The bathroom included a deep Japanese style bath. There is a large rooftop deck with a jacuzzi overlooking Lucua/Umeda/Osaka station. This view at night was phenomenal. At present there is also a ton of highrise construction going on behind Grand Front which my son got a kick out of (and me too). The apartment has a large kitchen and living room space as well, and we used it to host some visits from friends.
I ended up working most of this week so we only managed one major adventure.

Part 3. Return to Tokyo

For our third week we returned to Tokyo to visit old haunts and old friends, and take in the even bigger city. We headed up early on the Nozomi shinkansen after checking out of the Minn. We bought bento in Shin Osaka station and our son picked out a shinkansen shaped Ekiben box to bring back for school lunches.
We previously lived for about 7 years in Jiyugaoka, and planned to spend time there meeting friends, but we decided to stay in an area we were less familiar with in order to get a fresh perspective on the city. We spent 6 nights at the Blossom Hotel Hibiya which is about 5 min walk from Shimbashi station. It's a highrise with the hotel on the top. We had a room facing Tokyo Tower with a great view. The rooms themselves were clean and comfy with the external wall composed of a single huge bay window. The city scape was amazing night and day.
I ended up having to put out fires at work again during this week even though I had tried to take it off, and this put a little bit of a damper on some exploration plans, but we still managed to see all our friends and make a go of the time. Also since we already spent almost 10 years in Tokyo altogether, we didn't feel nearly as pressured to check out multiple tourist sites and focused on eating, drinking, and meeting with friends.
Tokyo is overflowing with great craft beer these days!

Part 4. Shizuoka

After our stay in Tokyo we started making our way back to Osaka for the last segment of our trip. On the way stopped off in Mishima for one night to visit my relatives. Here we stayed at the Toyoko-Inn Fujisan Mishima-eki. This is a no frills spot but it had nice clean, quiet rooms and a surprisingly good breakfast buffet. We wandered around Mishima in the afternoon then had a big Yakiniku family dinner with my relatives at Anrakutei Yakiniku. I tried Horumon for the first time and actually enjoyed it!
The next day we headed to Mochimune for one of our long planned trip highlights:
It rained heavily in the evening and all through the night, but this made for a fun trip to the nearby 7-Eleven, and a good excuse to just hang out and tap the keg while watching Doraemon reruns on the big screen TV in the room. In the morning the weather had cleared up so we took a long walk on the beach which is just a few minutes from the hotel. The walk from the hotel back to Mochimune station is also quite nice if the weather permits. Truly amazing experience. Also requires booking several months in advance.
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2023.05.23 14:40 upbstock PREPPERrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

While most investors are expecting an 11th-hour deal to be reached over the debt ceiling, interesting market dynamics are at play as the drama unfolds in Washington. Some triple-A corporate bonds from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) are trading at a yield discount to Treasury bills, which are generally viewed as the most safe investment in the world. In fact, Wall Street just witnessed the busiest week of the year for investment-grade corporate bond issuance, helped by a $31B debt sale by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) that became the fourth largest on record.
Where things stand: Following a talk on Monday evening, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed that both sides will keep negotiating on a debt limit plan to avoid default, though they didn't reach any agreement. "I believe we can still get there," McCarthy declared, though he's not considering the president's suggestion to cut the deficit by increasing taxes for the wealthy or closing tax loopholes for the pharma and oil industries. Instead, he's focused on reducing spending in the FY2024 federal budget following a reported agreement to cut unspent pandemic funding.
The chance of a default occurring is "very, very small, but not zero," explains John Mason in a new SA article that examines the probabilities. SA analyst David Lerner adds that the "scare" could be the "last best chance" to get into this rally, while Investing Group Leader Mott Capital Management writes that a deal may lead to a giant stock market liquidity drain.
What would happen if the U.S. defaults? Moody's Analytics forecasts "spiking interest rates and plunging equity prices," as well as the freezing up of short-term funding. Volatility might also send shockwaves throughout the financial system, spreading to the derivative and mortgage markets, where Treasuries are often used as collateral for securing trades and loans. The focus would then turn to the Federal Reserve and its backstop menu of options to avert a calamity, but Chair Jay Powell has repeatedly warned that "no one should assume that the Fed can protect the economy."
AI headaches
With algorithms scraping sites and social media for headlines to react to, the rise of AI photos has given investors another headache. On Monday morning, the account Bloomberg Feed (@bloombergfeed) - not associated with Bloomberg but with a blue checkmark - shared a fake image of an explosion at the Pentagon, which quickly went viral. "For all of a few minutes after the U.S. open, the S&P 500 (SP500) shed around a quarter of a percent, whilst yields on 10yr Treasuries (US10Y) moved about 4bps lower [before recovering]," Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid wrote. "Given the suggestions that the initial photo might have been AI-generated, it just shows the potential pitfalls for markets if fake news driven by AI can cause concrete movements in asset prices." (10 comments)
Water use
Under pressure of more severe cuts by the federal government, Arizona, California and Nevada have reached a deal to cut water usage from the drought-stricken Colorado River. In return, the Biden administration will compensate cities, irrigation districts, agricultural landowners and farm operators, with funding to the tune of $1.2B that will come from the Inflation Reduction Act. While the agreement will trim water usage by about 13% across the Southwest, or 3M acre-feet of water by 2026, bigger solutions will be needed in the future, especially if dry conditions intensify. SA analyst Vlad Deshkovich discusses what the Colorado River water shortages will mean for investors in the long-term, while AllianceBernstein explains that water scarcity is no longer just a problem for developing countries in desert climates. (6 comments)
Is it constitutional?
Lawsuits were expected and lawsuits have arrived. TikTok is suing Montana over its decision to ban the popular short video app across the state starting in January 2024. The suit alleges that the ban violates the First Amendment and rules governing interstate commerce, as well as laws like federal preemption. "We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana," TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance (BDNCE), said in a statement. In other legal tech news, Meta Platforms (META) was slammed with a $1.3B fine by the EU, marking the biggest penalty ever levied by Ireland's Data Protection Commission. (7 comments)
Today's Markets
In Asia, Japan -0.4%. Hong Kong -1.3%. China -1.5%. India flat. In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris -0.8%. Frankfurt -0.1%. Futures at 6:30, Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude +0.2% to $72.21. Gold -1% to $1957.60. Bitcoin +1.8% to $27,314. Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 3.74%
Today's Economic Calendar
Fed's Logan Speech 9:45 PMI Composite Flash 10:00 New Home Sales 10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg. Index 1:00 PM Results of $42B, 2-Year Note Auction 1:00 PM Money Supply
Companies reporting earnings today »
What else is happening...
WSB survey results: Economic data cannot be completely trusted.
St. Louis Fed's Bullard sees two more rates increases this year.
Chevron (CVX) to buy PDC Energy (PDCE) in $6.3B all-stock deal.
Losses prompt ZIM Integrated Shipping (ZIM) to scrap its dividend.
Can India become a new China for Apple (AAPL)? - Bernstein.
Walgreens (WBA) falls to slowest level in almost 11 years.
JPMorgan (JPM) cites reason that helped First Republic acquisition.
Yelp (YELP) gains on report of activist investor push for sale.
PacWest (PACW) offloads real estate loans to Kennedy-Wilson (KW).
Steve Cress, SA Head of Quant, discusses the fall of office REITs.
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2023.05.23 11:27 redvelvet108w 4 Star Hotel in Patna, Your Ultimate Choice near Patna Railway Station: Red Velvet

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2023.05.23 07:27 hotelbodhitree Hotel Near Patna Railway Station: Hotel Bodhi Tree

Hotel Bodhi Tree is the best hotel near Patna Railway Station. When it comes to finding the perfect hotel in Patna for unmarried couples, Bodhi Tree offers a delightful dining experience at a rooftop restaurant, and is conveniently located near the railway station, Hotel Bodhi Tree stands out as the prime choice. Nestled in the heart of the Patna, this exquisite establishment combines comfort, elegance, and exceptional hospitality to create an unforgettable experience for its guests. With its well-appointed rooms, stunning rooftop restaurant, and strategic location, Hotel Bodhi Tree has earned its reputation as the best hotel for unmarried couples in Patna.
Hotel Bodhi Tree boasts a wide array of luxurious accommodations that cater to the specific needs in hotel for unmarried couples in Patna . The hotel offers elegantly designed rooms, each exuding a harmonious blend of modernity and comfort. From cozy standard rooms to spacious suites, every unit is meticulously crafted to provide an inviting ambiance and a relaxing retreat for couples.
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Moreover, the hotel prioritizes privacy and security, making it an ideal choice for unmarried couples hotel in Patna . With discreet staff and strict policies, Hotel Bodhi Tree ensures that couples can enjoy their stay without any unnecessary interference.
One of the highlights of Hotel Bodhi Tree is its exquisite rooftop restaurant, offering a gastronomic journey like no other. Located on the top floor, the restaurant provides a panoramic view of the city's skyline while guests indulge in a delectable culinary experience.
The rooftop restaurant at Hotel Bodhi Tree serves a diverse range of cuisines, including Indian, Continental, and Chinese. Whether couples are seeking a romantic dinner or simply wish to enjoy a scrumptious meal together, this dining venue offers an enchanting ambiance complemented by an extensive menu of mouthwatering dishes.
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Hotel Bodhi Tree undoubtedly stands out as the best hotel in Patna for unmarried couples seeking a memorable stay. With its luxurious accommodations, top-notch amenities, and a rooftop restaurant offering breathtaking views and culinary delights.
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2023.05.23 00:55 dakotasumner 10 non-scammy, legitimate ways to improve your website.

Hi there 👋, my name is Dakota.

I run an eCommerce agency focused on improving eCommerce websites through UI / UX.

I’ve been a long time lurker, recent time poster.


Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts asking for feedback and tips on how to increase conversion rates.

I decided to put together a list of refinements that you can make to your website that would very likely increase your conversion rate (and other marketing metrics).

As a caveat, it goes without saying that each brand and website are unique. The recommendations I will be outlining today are common among many of the websites I see.

Diagnosing and solving specific problems unique to your brand would need a fine toothcomb.
These are more wide-tooth comb solutions, so take that as you will.


Before I move forward, a few answers to a few questions you may have.

If I make these changes, am I guaranteed to improve my conversion rates?
There are so many nuances to improving your conversion rate specifically. Things like product-market fit, how traffic arrives at your website, how you stand out from competitors, etc.
Rather than a 100% guarantee, a better way to frame this question would be “These changes are more likely to improve your conversion rates along with other marketing metrics”.

Is this secretly a way to get me to sign up for your newsletter or use your service?
I don’t have a newsletter, and I only like to work with people if they genuinely need help. Don’t worry mods, no outbound links in this post ;)

Are you pulling these suggestions right out of your a$$?
These refinements are based on the following:
That being said, this is just my 2 cents on the matter, so again, take these as you will.

Now, let’s get into the refinements you can start to implement on your eCom website.


10 refinements you can make right now to improve your website.

1. I can’t figure out what you sell within 5 seconds.
This may be the most common advice I give out, but if I go to your website, and I can’t figure out what you do within 5 seconds, you’ve already lost me.
People’s attention spans are sadly getting shorter, and since we cannot control that, we need to cater to that.
On your website’s home page, the hero section (the top part of the page) needs to be clear, transparent, and actionable.

Here are a few ways to improve your homepage hero ↓
✅ Either in your heading or subheading, state clearly what your product is and what it does for your customer.
Below are a few good examples from popular brands.
✅ Show your product clearly. I prefer using a PNG against a background, but If it’s a lifestyle shot, make sure it’s front and center and not hidden.
✅ Have a button (CTA) in your hero section, and make sure it’s clear where it will take me.

This last point transitions nicely into my next action item.

2. Your buttons aren’t informative and/or are hard to click.
Your buttons are how people will take action, hence the common phrase “call-to-action”.
A confused buyer won’t buy, in the same way, if your buttons are confusing, they won’t get clicked.

Here’s how you can fix that ↓
✅ Your buttons need to be extremely clear about what will happen when you click them.
✅ Ensure your buttons are 44px in height and have a font of at least 14px.
(I try to always use 16px, but 14px is acceptable as well.)
✅ Ensure your buttons have proper text-to-background contrast. To find this out, search in Google the tool “button buddy.dev” and enter your button colors. If it fails, adjust as necessary.

3. People often buy what others have bought. Take advantage and show more best sellers.
If I’m at a restaurant I’ve never been to, and I don’t know what to get, what do you think I’ll ask the waiter?
“What’s popular?” which basically means “What does everyone else order?”
It’s the same thing with your website, many people will be discovering you for the first time.

Most websites I see show “new products”, but this isn’t as optimal. Help your new web visitors out by telling them what’s popular first and making choosing easier for them.

Here’s how you can help new visitors ↓
✅ Within the first 2 - 3 sections of your home page, show your best sellers.
✅ On your product list sections, add a little meta tag that says “popular” either on the image or above the product title. You’ll see quickly how much more this product gets clicked on.

4. You have an entire novel on your home page.
So many times I will go to a home page, and see 3 huge chunks of text in a 14px font size.
90% of people viewing your website don’t read, they scroll, and it’s your job to cater to them.
As I mentioned earlier, people’s attention spans are getting shorter.
There are a ton of other websites people could go to if they don’t understand or get bored of yours.

Here’s how you can prevent that from happening ↓
✅ If you have a big chunk of text on your home page, you should go copy it, paste it into a Google document, and do 1 of two things.

5. You need to show more images in your product carousel.
Some people will never scroll down your PDP page and only stay in the top fold.
That means the only way they will learn more about your product is by scrolling through your product images.
To take advantage of this, you want to make sure people will be informed enough by your product images alone.

Here are a few must-have images you should add ↓
✅ Your product against a flat color background and nothing else.
✅ Your product in use, either by a person or however it’s used.
✅ A testimonial for that product: include a single sentence, the person’s name, star rating, and profile picture if possible.
✅ A list of 4 - 5 value features/benefits of your product. Things like: GMO-free, 100% American made, Made by experts with 20 years of experience, Made of high-quality materials. You get the gist here.
✅ A photo of your product in its “natural habitat”. Either in a fridge, pantry, road, counter, sports field, etc. Give people context on what it would look like if they actually bought your product.
✅ A how-to-use video if your product is unique. Even if it’s not unique and it’s just something simple, don’t underestimate the power of showing people how to use your product.

6. You’re not answering the questions people have in the back of their minds.
Whenever someone is browsing your website and thinking about buying your products, there’s a voice in the back of their head.
Objections and reasons not to buy your products.
Questions like

If you don’t provide answers to these objections, people will very likely put off buying your product and forget about it.
Here’s how you can answer these questions better ↓
✅ Add a FAQ section to your PDP pages.
Diversify the questions between things relating to shipping, and points about the value of your product.
✅ Add text below your primary buttons (buy now, shop now, add to cart) that addresses shipping and returns.
30-day money back guarantee
Free shipping in the EU
✅ If your product has a selector for a size, include a link within closer proximity on how sizing works.
Either linking to a sizing chart, a how-to-measure guide, etc.

7. No one wants to be a first-time buyer. Show that others have tried your product and have hopefully liked it.
A farmer’s market is a great place to see this in action.
When you walk around, you usually glance around at all the different vendors and stands.
But then you see a vendor with a line of 30 people, and you think “Wow that must be some really good organic peanut butter”.
Your interest is piqued.

I think we all understand the value of reviews and social proof, but so many websites don’t take full advantage.

Here are a few quick ways you can optimize ↓
✅ Include reviews and/or your star rating in your website’s home page hero.
✅ When calling out your social media accounts, use the actual number of followers you have.
Even a number like “2,500” followers will earn you more trust

8. You most likely don’t need the account & search icons in your mobile header. Remove those asap.
Simple one here, but if you have under 100 products, I’d say remove these and put these in your hamburger menu.
The more icons in your nav bar, the busier it is. The busier your site becomes, the less trust you’ll receive.

A minor fix, but one I’ve consistently vouched for and seen good results with.

9. Sir, this is a website, not an art gallery.
82% of consumers say slow page speeds impact their purchasing decisions.
Your website needs images that are compressed and the correct size.
You should not have a 2500px image for a 300px wide Product image
Multiply that by 100s of images on your website, and you’ve got a recipe for a slow website that people get frustrated waiting for and will leave to your competitors.

Here's a step-by-step guide to fix that today ↓
  1. Go to your image gallery (asset library if you’re on WordPress, content → files if you’re on Shopify).
  2. On your image gallery, sort by image size until you have the largest to the smallest.
  3. Download any images that are either (1) over 500kb (.5 MB) in size and/or (2) over 2400px in width.
  4. ✅ Type into Google “image compressor” and upload all your images for FREE.
  1. ✅ Any image that is a hero banner can be resized to a max width of 1920px. Any images that are of products on your website can be resized to a max width of around 1040px. This is just in case you reuse an image elsewhere on your website and need a larger size.
  2. Re-upload your new images and replace the old ones.
  3. Enjoy a much faster loading website.

10. Your hierarchy is struggling. Make sure your fonts are different enough.
Last but not least, if your website fonts are too similar in size, it makes it hard for people to know what to focus on first.

Here’s how to take action and fix your hierarchy ↓
✅ Make your fonts at least 8px in difference. Here’s a sample base font list.
H1 = 48px - Bold
H2 = 32px - Semi Bold
H3 = 24px - Semi Bold
P (Body) = 16px - Regular
✅ Make your headings a different color than your body text.
Headings = hex code - #111111
Body = hex code - #444444

In the words of porky pig, that’s all folks.
I sincerely hope you get some value out of this. Feel free to comment below if you have any more questions, or if you just want to disagree with me. My strong opinions are loosely held.
submitted by dakotasumner to ecommerce [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 10:12 redvelvet108w Top Hotel In Patna- The Red Velvet Hotel

Red Velvet, a prestigious Top hotel in Patna, stands as a beacon of opulence, comfort, and exceptional service. Nestled in the heart of the Patna, this magnificent establishment redefines the hospitality industry in Patna. With its world-class amenities, outstanding dining options, state-of-the-art meeting halls, and elegant banquet halls, Red Velvet surpasses all expectations, making it the preferred choice for discerning travelers and locals alike. In this article, we will explore in detail why Red Velvet is considered the top hotel in Patna, offering an unparalleled experience to its guests.
Red Velvet is the best hotel near Patna Railway Station, making it easily accessible from all corners of the city. Situated hotel in Patna near the junction, it offers excellent connectivity to major transportation hubs, including the railway station and the airport. This strategic location not only makes it convenient for travelers but also ensures that guests have easy access to prominent landmarks, commercial centers, and cultural attractions in the city.
At Red Velvet, every guest is treated to a world-class experience from the moment they step into the elegantly designed lobby. The hotel boasts a wide range of luxurious rooms and suites that are tastefully furnished and thoughtfully designed to cater to the diverse needs of guests. Whether you're a business traveler seeking a peaceful and productive environment or a leisure traveler looking for a haven of comfort, Red Velvet has the perfect accommodation option for you.
The hotel's rooms are equipped with modern amenities, including plush beds, premium linens, spacious workstations, high-speed internet access, flat-screen televisions, and well-appointed bathrooms. The tasteful decor and attention to detail create an ambiance of tranquility and sophistication, ensuring that guests feel right at home during their stay.
One of the highlights of Red Velvet is its exquisite dining options that cater to every palate. The hotel boasts the best restaurant in Patna that offers a diverse array of culinary delights, ranging from traditional Indian delicacies to international favorites. With its talented team of chefs, the restaurant guarantees an unforgettable gastronomic experience for guests, blending flavors, textures, and aromas to create culinary masterpieces.
For those seeking a more intimate dining experience, Being a 4 star hotel in Patna, Red Velvet also offers private dining rooms where guests can enjoy personalized service and a curated menu. Whether it's a romantic candlelit dinner or a private celebration, these exclusive spaces provide the perfect setting for memorable moments.
Red Velvet is top hotel in Patna and takes pride in its exceptional facilities for corporate events and meetings. The hotel features state-of-the-art meeting hall in Patna, that are designed to cater to the needs of business professionals. Equipped with the latest audio-visual technology, high-speed internet connectivity, and comfortable seating arrangements, these meeting halls provide a conducive environment for conferences, seminars, workshops, and business meetings.
The dedicated event planning team at Red Velvet ensures that every detail is taken care of, from setting up the venue to providing customized catering services. With their expertise and attention to detail, they strive to make each event a resounding success, leaving a lasting impression on attendees.
Red Velvet's elegant banquet hall in Patna are the epitome of grandeur and sophistication, making them the ideal venue for weddings, social gatherings, and other special events. With their exquisite decor, spacious layouts, and impeccable service, these banquet halls in Patna create a magical ambiance that adds a touch of glamour to any occasion.
submitted by redvelvet108w to u/redvelvet108w [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 08:11 TheCurserHasntMoved The Travels of a Galactic Cowboy, Part One: The Star Council, Chapter Two: Friendships

First Next
Skeeter was idly scrolling through the comments of the first video of his new series, and overall he was pleased. He rolled his eyes at BroFister696969's claims that he and Suzie put on a wholesome act for the cameras. Sure, they tried to be high energy and engaging, but it's not like there was a hidden dark side to their marriage. On the bad days, they tolerated each other, on the good they drove each other crazy, and in between it was good company. "Folk will cry fake at whatever," he muttered to himself as he tried to focus on the much larger proportion of positive comments. Sometimes he wondered whether it wouldn't have been simpler to turn his naval cook skills over to civvy use instead of starting his channel, but most days the terminally online didn't bother him. Today though, well, he didn't want to look at anything critical of his wife.
Really, the comments were leaning positive, and the like to dislike ratio was over ninety percent, so he knew the audience loved it. In fact, he wouldn't see any negative comments at all if he didn't sort by newest first periodically to see if any of the eagle eyed noticed an error or glitch in the video, which did happen sometimes. The top comments were concerned mostly with who they'd named "Granny Fish 'n Chips," who they absolutely adored. If the comments section was anything to go by Woat in general and that restaurant in particular was going to see a noticeable influx of tourism in about a month. He grunted and shifted position on the overlarge sofa as he thought about how he could get some more interesting landing shots out of the shuttle's logs, maybe he could get the pilot to maneuver a bit more or something.
"Hey sugar," Suzie said as she playfully slapped his boot, "you gettin' hungry yet?"
"Yea, just goin' over these comments..." Skeeter said as he pocketed his phone. It still blew his mind that the xenos didn't have in-hyperspace network connection outside of an email system before first contact. It blew his mind that only the Star Sailors had upgraded so far, but then again they were allies with the Republic. "I wish they had human sized cabins..."
"Jerry isn't that bad," Suzie chided.
Skeeter rolled his eyes and moaned, "He's a CIPpy cup! Constantly bitchin' about the 'Republic's imperials ways' and never mind the fact that his planet got rejected for not protecting free speech."
"Well, we just won't talk politics!"
Skeeter tried to give his wife a flat look to communicate his doubts as to the possibility that Jerry might decide to not randomly blame the Republic for something going wrong on his home planet, but her unflappable cheerfulness proved more powerful than his eternal cynicism. "Aw, fine. He's okay enough when he's not bein' an asshat. What about Ivan?"
"The Master at Arms and he are investigating some strange activity in one of the storage bays," she said as she pulled him off of the sofa.
"Bored shiprats are dangerous," Skeeter muttered as he let his wife lead him out into the corridor.
"Oh and bored gunners are completely safe?"
"Well, we're only dangerous to stuff on the outside of the ship," he retorted as he took care not to bounce down the corridor at hilarious speeds. He'd learned his lesson after nearly bowling through the Steward. There were plenty of rec facilities for that sort of nonsense, even if it gained him an audience from the xenos passengers.
"Cannon steering," Suzie taunted in return.
"I never did that! Except for in an actual emergency, and the captain ordered it!"
"Just sayin', the John Paul Jones nearly collided into her escorts because of some bored gunners once."
"I didn't even sail on her!"
Suzie let out an impish giggle, "But you sure wanted to try that."
"Now you're just askin' to be kissed!"
Suzie snatched her arm away and bolted as she dramatically exclaimed, "Oh Lord, won't somebody help me? This rogue is attacking my innocent face with his bristles!"
So much for lessons learned, Skeeter thought to himself as he leaped after her putting on his best maniacal laughter. In his expert opinion, he could be a dastardly villain in a film if he wanted.
One ludicrous chase through the corridors later, and Skeeter and Suzie burst into the main dining room of the passenger deck of the We Bring Friends from Afar to Joyous Meeting having only terrified a few of the cabin staff. Skeeter finally "caught" his wife and kissed her cheeks as she dramatically "fought" to escape, and more realistically fought the urge to break down into uncontrollable laughter from the situation and the tickling of Skeeter's beard. She "lost" the first fight, and lost the second, much to the amusement of the three Star Sailors on duty as waitstaff and the other passengers of various races. This was hardly the first time they made a public display of their silly antics, and it had endeared them to most of the ship, passengers and crew alike. Even the captain liked them despite his duties keeping him too busy to enjoy them very often, but then again they had paid twice his asking price for the charter, and a passenger liner captain tends to like customers who can afford to chart their own course.
Once they had calmed down, or rather once Suzie had contained her humor, they made their way to the "Sneaky Height" table, where the other "Human Spacers," as the xenos called Humans, Doggos, Bigkitties, and Chimpmandos, which Suzie thought was a dumb name. It didn't occur to her that calling every race on this side of the Glassed Gulf xenos was exactly the same thing, but she kept her opinion to herself, so no harm was done.
Much to Skeeter's delight, Juno, a tabby Bigkitty was sitting at the table picking lazily at something like sashimi, but much to his chagrin, the aforementioned Jerry was also there. Juno was a delight to everybody on the Joyous Meeting, and her calm demeanor and insightful conversation were probably the cause of that, despite her feline appearance being somewhat off-putting to the xenos. Skeeter was convinced that the cuteness meter on the xenos side of the Glassed Gulf was broken or something, but he was glad that Juno had made friends. Jerry on the other hand, was the kind of plump-middle aged man with a very narrow friend group. It wasn't necessarily due to him being particularly bad in any way that people could point out, and it was neither because he preferred to keep his social circle tight. No, it was rather the fact that he had a tendency to become abrasive when discussing certain topics and lacked the wherewithal to notice that nobody wanted to discuss the matter with him. One of these subjects was Republican foreign policy, and Skeeter was a veteran.
So it was with a somewhat wan smile that Skeeter took his seat after seating Suzie, and said, "Hello Juno, hello Jerry."
"Hey y'all," Suzie said with the warmth of a woman who truly believed that a person's good qualities were more important than their flaws.
"Skeeter, Suzie!" Juno purred, "I've been having tremendous fun in the comments of your video. I regret that I did not meet Granny Fish 'n Chips, she seemed lovely."
"Her fish was good too," Suzie said with a grin.
Jerry grunted, "I didn't watch."
"Thanks Jerry," Skeeter said flatly before turning to Juno; "Oh, she was just a peach! I kinda wish we'd chartered to stay a couple days longer after that, but we have a lot of planets to get to if we're gonna show people what our new friends are like."
"I only wish more people came along to meet all of these interesting people," Juno mused. "Do you know that turtle fellow is quite old? His wife passed away recently and he's on his way to spread her ashes on their cradle world. They had a fascinating life together, two centuries of it."
"Friends?" Jerry sneered.
"Yes, friends," Juno answered simply.
"So I'm an optimist, sue me," Skeeter bit back as Suzie gave his toe a good stomp.
Jerry scoffed loudly before anybody could continue the conversation, and then declared, "The Republic just wants to make colonies out of the xenos planets. That's all you lot mean by friends,"
"What will our lovebrindles be having for dinner tonight?" a teenaged Star Sailor asked with a beaming smile.
Breathing a sigh of relief at the interruption, Skeeter ordered by name something not too dissimilar from a prime rib roast. He didn't know what kind of animal it came from, but it sure tasted good to him. Suzie also was grateful to the teen, but she ordered some kind of sautéed poultry and vegetables, although to her mind it needed garlic, onion, and significant amounts of Anaheim peppers. They had no need to bring the scanner to dinner aboard the Joyous Meeting, as the galley had taken the trouble to construct a "Sneaky Safe" Menu, but Ivan was saved from an upset stomach a few times.
Once their orders were made, Suzie mused, "Ain't those turtle fellas heavyworlders like us? Why don't he sit with us once in a while?"
"The Terralons are very private people, they dislike large groups," Juno answered matter-of-factly.
"Well that's okay I guess..." Suzie pouted back.
"Not everybody can handle your saccharine shtick," Jerry said off-handedly.
"Shtick? I don't put on loving my wife," Skeeter said with all of the softness of a shell being chambered.
"I didn't mean that," Jerry said quickly, "I just mean... well... you two are very high energy, and the affection is constant. I can see why a widower wouldn't want to deal with that."
"I can see that," Suzie said as she reached over under the table to pat Skeeter's knee reassuringly.
Jerry, for some reason clear only to himself began, "You won't carve out a special deal with them for the Republic-"
"Please stop antagonizing Skeeter. He has not risen to your bait all these weeks, and if he did, I shouldn't think you would enjoy it all that much," Juno interrupted softly.
"Of course the Pacifician sides with her Republican masters," Jerry said in a tone he probably thought was jocular.
Juno lifted a hand and put up a padded finger, a gesture that among her culture signified that any interruption would be considered extremely rude, and began, "First, no armed Republican ship has ever entered Pacificia. Not once. Not the Navy, not the Army, and not any private vessel with anything more than what's necissary to break up larger asteroids. We have shared a border for over two centuries and never once was this law of ours violated. Not even the criminals will aggress on us this way. Second, the Republic imposes no sanctions nor onerous tariffs, duties, or trade regulations upon our commerce. With their economic might, they could use this method to subsume us at any point without firing a shot, but they refrain. Finally, for the mere price of not aggressing upon their civilians, the Republic protects our territory from outside forces who have not yet set aside their lower violent impulses. Including a little empire started within the Coalition of Independent Planets, in case you forgot. While it grieves me that the Republic requires violence of her people, I do not condemn her or her people for confronting the forces not yet ready for a more peaceful way. The Republic is at least open to peace."
"They're peaceful with their giant military, sure-"
"Jerry, you will cease this purposeful antagonism of Skeeter, or I shall cease to associate with you. One would think that Skeeter's kindness would have dispelled the propaganda of Londonistanerbong, but I see now that you wish to make what you were told to be true."
"I- I'm not trying to do any such thing," Jerry muttered before continuing strongly, "But if you think I'm bad at discussing this civilly, then I'll take your advice and drop the subject. Maybe I can find someone to practice with at a different time."
A silence fell over the table as the people there found any line forward fraught with awkward acknowledgements of Jerry's embarrassment, yet they were soon saved by the twin arrivals of their meals and Ivan, the one completely expected and the other, well Ivan was accompanied by somebody.
"Can we keep him?" Ivan asked as he held up what Skeeter thought was a Lutrae teenager and doing his level best to make puppy-dog eyes despite the fact he was a six foot five wall of floof and muscle.
"Hi, I'm Kip," said the stowaway.
First Next
submitted by TheCurserHasntMoved to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.21 12:02 ItsThatDandy UK. Young person. Start of career

UK-based. Daughter, aged 20, is pursuing her passion for Baking. She left school at 18 with decent GCSEs and 3 A Levels, mid-pandemic. University was not the right path for her. She undertook a professional cooking course at a local college and has worked to develop her Baking skillset at home. She managed to get a waitressing job at a top restaurant in Bristol, UK and the chef-proprietor is very supportive of her ambitions. They're planning a formal collaboration between the restaurant and her personal baking brand, with specific menu items etc. Standard restaurant chaos aside, her career is on a good path.
Ultimately she would like to own her own bakery, and prior to that spend some time deepening her skillset overseas. In all likelihood, in Japan.
She is paid hourly. Pre-tips she makes around £23k. With tips it's nearer £28k. She shares a flat and despite extortionate rent, is managing well with bills and also non-essentials. She does not run a car and has obviously got no student debt. When planning, we loosely targeted 50% income on essentials, 30% non essentials and 20% savings. She is maintaining that balance.
She has around £10K saved. Roughly half from an inheritance and the other half being money she's saved herself and also from her matured child trust fund. This money is in a default high street bank savings account and is - I guess, only getting 2-3%
At 20yrs old she does not qualify for the UK workplace pension and so does not have a pension plan in-place. For planning purposes we have advised that she earmark 10% of income (so about 50% of her 'savings' amount), for retirement planning/pension. This was based on the 'save half your age when you start work, as a percentage, for retirement' principle.
Primary question: Should she start a private pension plan now, and put the 10% income into that?
When she gets to 22 she'll be eligible for a workplace pension and our assumption is that at the point she should ensure she's contributing as much into that as she needs to, to maximise employer contributions. She would then adjust her private pension accordingly, to maintain cost-of-living and overall life affordability/enjoyment. Does that make sense?
Secondary question: What would be a good way to deal with her £10K savings? A split between locking away some portion of it for 2-5years? Maybe a portion into some low risk investment funds? What about Premium Bonds?
Additionally, what is considered the optimal way to regularly save, since on paper she has an additional, remaining 10% income (from the overall 20%) she will be planning to 'save'?
We will be very grateful for any thoughts, as the marketplace is very broad and confusing, and we're feeling a bit of analysis paralysis!
Many thanks
submitted by ItsThatDandy to FinancialPlanning [link] [comments]

2023.05.19 03:17 Nathaniel_Olds My Mega Post of Recommendations Pt 2.


We're New at This

Ikuma and Sumika Saeki are two childhood friends who have recently married. However, despite being deeply in love with each other, they have yet to cross a hurdle that lies in their happy and youthful life—to have sex. Due to the duo's inexperience, the two virgins are left awkward and embarrassed when the thought of it enters their mind. They try their best to attempt intercourse, from simply asking their partner to being aggressive and making a move, but it tends to end in the most anticlimactic of ways. Thus, the awkward yet hilarious story of them trying to kickstart their nightly activities begins. - No-Harem, Married-Couple - I think this was okay. I only read 3 volumes. Warning, if you don't like bashful MCs this is obviously not one you are going to like.

Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible

High school student Junta Shiraishi has a simple goal—to live a fulfilling youth. However, achieving this goal appears to be harder than expected, as everyone in his surroundings often fails to notice him due to his lack of presence. In fact, Shiraishi's lack of presence is so severe that people think his seat in class is always empty, and mistakenly assume that he often skips school. There is even a weird rumor spreading around in class, claiming that those who successfully spot Shiraishi will be blessed with good fortune for the day. So far, the only person who notices his existence is Nagisa Kubo, the girl seated next to him. Unfortunately for him though, Kubo likes to tease him on a daily basis and often puts him into unprecedented and nerve-wracking situations. However, as Kubo's playful antics continue to involve the reluctant Shiraishi, he may soon discover that his youth might not be as boring as he initially thought. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation - This is cute. I think the anime adaptation started back up after a mid season hiatus, good.

My First Girlfriend is a Gal

Following a prank pulled by his perverse friends, Junichi Hashiba asks a gal out in an attempt to change the fact that he's a hopeless virgin. Yukana Yame, the girl in question, is disgusted by Junichi's groveling. However, through a series of teasing remarks, she soon finds herself bonding with him and ultimately accepting Junichi's confession, much to his surprise. Hajimete no Gal follows Junichi as he overcomes his lack of self-confidence and suppresses his sexual urges, all while thrust into a whole new school life full of lively girls and unpredictable mayhem. - Harem?, Anime-Adaptation - I don't remember if this is harem or not.

More than a married couple, but not lovers.

Jirou, a third-year in high school, is forced to live with a gal named Akari under a course called the "Couple Practical." In order to be paired with their own romantic interests, they're going to act as a married couple...!? - No-Harem, Love-Triangle, Anime-Adaptation - This is okay. This also has the pretty typical no one gets together until way late, so heads up on that.

Blissful Land

Within a quaint mountain village in 18th-century Tibet, 13-year-old Kang Shiva is preparing to one day inherit his father's position as the town's doctor. Absent-minded and obsessed with herbs, Kang has never considered falling in love and marrying, despite being at the right age to take a bride. When a girl named Mosh Rati comes from afar to meet her future husband, she stays with Kang's family at their house. Mesmerized by her beauty, Kang thinks about how lucky the man who marries her will be. But to his surprise, she is his intended bride! Between a doctor-in-training and a young lady from a foreign country, a blossoming romance is bound to form. - No-Harem, Arranged-Marriage, Wholesome - This was super wholesome. Also, the setting is a nice change of pace. I liked the art pretty well to. It was memorable, which is a great thing to be. I'm tempted to say that the romance is a subplot, but I don't think it is. I feel like there isn't a ton of interaction between the MCs though. Could be remembering that wrong though, it's been over a year.

How to Treat a Lady Knight Right

Visible scars cover the face and body of Leo Cornelia, indisputable proof that she has been through many grueling battles. Known as the "Sacred Sword," she is a knight unrivaled by any other, the toughest throughout the land. As the only daughter born in a house of knights, she was raised by a strict father and has dedicated her life to learning the way of the sword. Her purpose was for the battlefield, not about living her life like a woman—until she meets a boy who confesses his affection for her. Harboring an unrequited love, Fooly Dent admires all of the qualities that Leo possesses despite her perceived lack of femininity. From time to time, he praises her on their quests together, causing Leo to act bashful and embarrassed. Unable to act like a lady beneath her tough exterior, will Leo ever let herself be vulnerable, learn to accept her feminine side, and reciprocate Fooly's feelings? - No-Harem, Early-Romance - This was pretty good. I definetly think I have seen a post or two asking for recs that would like this one.

A dangerous type became my girlfriend (No MAL Link)

The female protagonist, Miyu, is your typical golddigger girl - she hooks up with guys, milk them for all they're worth, then dump them and move on to her next prey. Yuuki-kun, her latest target, seems to just be your typical nice guy that genuinely looks out for Miyu, completely oblivious of her intentions. However, something's different about him that makes Miyu unable to carry on her usual scheme... - No-Harem, Early-Romance - This has an interesting format. Only 2 panels per chapter I believe, so really short. That would normally be a downside for me, but I think that the short length really prevents the kind of gimmiky character from overstaying it's welcome. You can read all of the chapters in an afternoon pretty easily.

Marry Me!

The story follows 28-year-old civil servant Akiyasu Shin as he's chosen to take part in a new government program under the so-called "NEET protection law." This project pairs government employees with NEETs, as a means to rehabilitate them and re-introduce them into society. Problem is, his chosen partner, Sawamoto Himari, was signed up without her knowledge! Will Akiyasu Shin end up winning her over? Or will this arranged marriage be a bust!? - Apparently I've read this. News to me. Maybe I should go back. Looks like I read 2 volumes. Back on the tbr.

Call of the Night

Kou Yamori seems like a typical middle school student on the surface. Relatively good at studies and amiable with his classmates, he puts a lot of effort into maintaining this facade. One day, however, he decides to stop pretending and quits school, developing insomnia as a result of having no daytime outlet for his energy. When taking walks alone at night, he feels marginally better, though he is aware that his inability to sleep should be considered a serious problem. On one such walk, Kou meets a weird girl, Nazuna Nanakusa, who diagnoses the cause of his sleeplessness: despite making changes in his life, he is still holding himself back from experiencing true freedom. She says that he won't be able to sleep unless he is satisfied with how he spends his waking hours. When it appears that she has resolved his current worries, Nazuna invites him back to her apartment to share her futon. After a while, unaware that he is only feigning unconsciousness, she leans over him—and bites his neck! - No-Harem, Vampires, Anime-Adaptation - I know some of you like vampire girls. Well here you go. I liked it.


Although admired at school for her amiability and academic prowess, high school student Kyouko Hori has been hiding another side of her. With her parents often away from home due to work, Hori has to look after her younger brother and do the housework, leaving no chance to socialize away from school. Meanwhile, Izumi Miyamura is seen as a brooding, glasses-wearing otaku. However, in reality, he is a gentle person inept at studying. Furthermore, he has nine piercings hidden behind his long hair and a tattoo along his back and left shoulder. By sheer chance, Hori and Miyamura cross paths outside of school—neither looking as the other expects. These seemingly polar opposites become friends, sharing with each other a side they have never shown to anyone else. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation, Early-Romance, Wholesome - This is another absolute GOAT up there with Angel Next Door. The romance happens pretty quick and it has some really wholesome, nice scenes. Highly recommend. You will see a lot of other redditors recommending this one.

No Matter What You Say, Furi-san Is Scary!

With his first year of high school on the horizon, Namito Taira planned to make the most out of this new period of his life. But what he did not account for was that he would be sitting next to Youko Furi, a blonde girl possessing all the characteristics of a delinquent. Thus, upon meeting her, a single glare from Furi immediately struck fear into his heart. However, contrary to Taira's beliefs, Furi is a sweet and adorable girl—with a big crush on him! Even so, every interaction between them ends with misunderstanding, and Taira continues to believe that Furi is nothing but a delinquent. Regardless, the time shared between Taira and Furi never fails to be lovely, leading the pair on the path toward a wholesome relationship. - No-Harem, Wholesome - This is super cute and wholesome. Love it. 4 volumes on kindle, I think.

Komi Can't Communicate

It's Shouko Komi's first day at the prestigious Itan Private High School, and she has already risen to the status of the school's Madonna. With long black hair and a tall, graceful appearance, she captures the attention of anyone who comes across her. There's just one problem though—despite her popularity, Shouko is terrible at communicating with others. Hitohito Tadano is your average high school boy. With his life motto of "read the situation and make sure to stay away from trouble," he quickly finds that sitting next to Shouko has made him the enemy of everyone in his class! One day, knocked out by accident, Hitohito later wakes up to the sound of Shouko's "meow." He lies that he heard nothing, causing Shouko to run away. But before she can escape, Hitohito surmises that Shouko is not able to talk to others easily—in fact, she has never been able to make a single friend. Hitohito resolves to help Shouko with her goal of making one hundred friends so that she can overcome her communication disorder. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation, Wholesome - Popular reddit rec for good reason. The FMC has a communication disorder and wants to make friends. I think this has pretty strong characters.

Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro

Every day, Naoto Hachiouji is teased relentlessly by Hayase Nagatoro, a first year student he meets one day in the library while working on his manga. After reading his story and seeing his awkward demeanor, she decides from that moment on to toy with him, even calling him "Senpai" in lieu of using his real name. At first, Nagatoro's relentless antics are more bothersome than anything and leave him feeling embarrassed, as he is forced to cater to her whims. However, as they spend more time together, a strange sort of friendship develops between them, and Naoto finds that life with Nagatoro can even be fun. But one thing's for sure: his days will never be dull again. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation - The FMC in this bullies the MMC a lot, do with that info what you will.

My Dress-Up Darling

Engrossed in the family business of traditional doll making, Wakana Gojou is a reserved high school freshman without friends. Harboring painful memories of a childhood friend's disdain toward his interest, Gojou cannot relate to his classmates and their pastimes, eventually isolating himself. Gojou has yet to perfect his crafting of dolls' faces, but is exceptionally skilled at making their clothes. His finesse with the sewing machine is soon discovered by his beautiful classmate Marin Kitagawa, whose boldness and honesty Gojou both admires and envies. Instantly, she shares with Gojou her own hobby: she likes to cosplay as characters from erotic video games. However, Kitagawa cannot sew her own costumes, leading her to seek Gojou's expertise. Now, as he is dragged along to the charming girl's endless cosplay-related affairs, Kitagawa becomes his first friend who fully accepts him. Thus, although polar opposites, their relationship slowly blossoms through their aptitude in helping each other in the intricate world of cosplay. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation - This is a great one. A bit ecchi which I could do without. The MCs in this are very likeable.

Fly Me to the Moon (Tonikawa)

Having grown up ridiculed for his bizarre name, Nasa Yuzaki strives to be remembered for something more. Fortunately, it seems he's on the right path, ranking first in the nation's mock exams and set to enter his high school of choice. However, everything changes in a single night when he notices a girl across the street on his way home. Enraptured by her overwhelming cuteness, it's love at first sight for Nasa. But in his infatuated daze, he fails to notice the approaching danger speeding down the road and finds himself at death's door. Barely alive thanks to the girl's intervention, Nasa musters the courage to confess his love to her, fearing she might otherwise vanish from his life. She accepts his proposal on one condition: marriage, to which Nasa gladly accepts before passing out from his injuries. Upon waking, however, the girl is nowhere to be found. After recovering from his injuries, Nasa tosses his previous ambitions aside and dedicates his life to finding the girl that captured his heart, yet several years pass to no avail. But one night, when an unexpected visitor comes knocking on his door, Nasa finds himself facing a woman that would forever change his world: his wife. - No-Harem, Anime-Adaptation, Early-Romance, Wholesome This is another peak rec, especially if you like wholesome stuff. There are quite a few volumes on kindle. Romance from chapter 1 as the summary suggests.


I know anime is a bit off topic, but here are some recs anyway.

And you thought there is never a girl online?

After mustering up the courage to propose to a girl in an online game, naive otaku Hideki "Rusian" Nishimura is devastated when she flat-out rejects him. To make matters worse, the girl reveals that she is actually an older man in real life. With his dreams crushed and his heart broken, Rusian comes to an abrupt decision in the midst of his raging fit: he will never trust another girl in an online game again. Years later, Rusian is now in a guild with three other players, one of whom possesses a female avatar by the name of Ako. Ako is deeply in love with Rusian and wants to marry him. Although he entertains the possibility that she might be a guy, Rusian accepts her proposal, claiming that her gender does not matter as long as she is cute in-game. However, after a discussion between the guild members that led to all of them having an offline meeting, Rusian finds out that Ako, along with the other members, is not just a girl but also his schoolmate. - No-Harem, Clingy-FMC - This is okay.

I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying

Though they couldn't be any more different, love has managed to blossom between Hajime Tsunashi, a hardcore otaku who shuts himself in at home while making a living off his blog, and his wife Kaoru—a hard-working office lady who, in contrast, is fairly ordinary, albeit somewhat of a crazy drunk. As this unlikely couple discovers, love is much more than just a first kiss or a wedding; the years that come afterward in the journey of marriage brings with it many joys as well as challenges. Whether due to their quirky personalities or the peculiar people surrounding them, Hajime and Kaoru find themselves caught up in a variety of baffling and ridiculous antics. But despite the struggles they face, the love that ties them together spurs them to move forward and strive to become better people in order to bring their partner happiness. - No-Harem, Married-Couple, Wholesome - This is a really good one. Short episodes. 2 seasons. A slice of life about an existing relationship, which is so nice to find.


Ryuuji Takasu is a gentle high school student with a love for housework; but in contrast to his kind nature, he has an intimidating face that often gets him labeled as a delinquent. On the other hand is Taiga Aisaka, a small, doll-like student, who is anything but a cute and fragile girl. Equipped with a wooden katana and feisty personality, Taiga is known throughout the school as the "Palmtop Tiger." One day, an embarrassing mistake causes the two students to cross paths. Ryuuji discovers that Taiga actually has a sweet side: she has a crush on the popular vice president, Yuusaku Kitamura, who happens to be his best friend. But things only get crazier when Ryuuji reveals that he has a crush on Minori Kushieda—Taiga's best friend! Toradora! is a romantic comedy that follows this odd duo as they embark on a quest to help each other with their respective crushes, forming an unlikely alliance in the process. - No-Harem, Love-Triangle/Square? - This started as a manga, but I haven't read that so I put it amongst the anime recs. This is a good one. Commonly recommended romance anime.

Love is Like a Cocktail

Chisato Mizusawa is a calm and collected assistant office manager who apparently dislikes drinking alcohol. But she actually likes it and has a secret side to her that emerges only when drunk: her cute persona, which she only reveals to her husband, the bartender Sora. Each day when Chisato comes home, Sora takes care of his beloved wife, providing her with a good meal and a fresh drink. These drinks include Plum Splet, Irish Coffee, Orange Breeze, and many more tasty concoctions that she eagerly gulps down. But as much as she likes alcohol, she loves her kindhearted husband more. Together, they share a life that is filled with happiness—and the more-than-occasional cocktail. - No-Harem, Married-Couple, Wholesome - This is another slice of life about an existing relationship, which has me happy. Short episodes again. This is a food anime as well, so it centers around a drink recipe each episode. Yay for the 21 year olds I guess?

Aharen Is Indecipherable

Beginning his first year of high school, all Matsuboshi Raidou wants is to make friends—starting with the cute, tiny, and soft-spoken Reina Aharen, who sits right next to him in class. Unbeknownst to Raidou, Reina shares the same sentiment, but she has a problem. Awkward and timid, Reina is incapable of determining how chummy she has to be when approaching a person. Due to Reina's complete inability to gauge personal space, the two struggle to spark their unlikely friendship, as even the simplest tasks like talking seem impossible for them. But despite the countless yet pointless challenges that hinder the pair, the overly imaginative Raidou will do whatever it takes to befriend the indecipherable Reina. - No-Harem - I only watched a couple of episodes of this because only a couple had come out at that point. I remember enjoying those episodes pretty well.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

The rare and inexplicable Puberty Syndrome is thought of as a myth. It is a rare disease which only affects teenagers, and its symptoms are so supernatural that hardly anyone recognizes it as a legitimate occurrence. However, high school student Sakuta Azusagawa knows from personal experience that it is very much real, and happens to be quite prevalent in his school. Mai Sakurajima is a third-year high school student who gained fame in her youth as a child actress, but recently halted her promising career for reasons unknown to the public. With an air of unapproachability, she is well known throughout the school, but none dare interact with her—that is until Sakuta sees her wandering the library in a bunny girl costume. Despite the getup, no one seems to notice her, and after confronting her, he realizes that she is another victim of Puberty Syndrome. As Sakuta tries to help Mai through her predicament, his actions bring him into contact with more girls afflicted with the elusive disease. - No-Harem - This isn't a personal favorite of mine, but it's going to get recommended in the comments anyway so might as well put it here. Yes it is good.

Twin Star Exorcists

Magano, a parallel realm filled with monsters known as "Kegare," is a place where exorcists deal with all impurities. Benio Adashino is a prodigy exorcist who is recognized for her strength and is summoned to Tokyo by the Exorcist Union. On her way, she plummets into the arms of Rokuro Enmadou, a young exorcist with a troubled past. But the impurities of Magano do not rest. When these two exorcists witness a couple of children stolen by a Kegare, Benio rushes to save them, dragging Rokuro along with her into Magano. Engaged in a fight she is on the verge of being defeated in, Benio is saved by Rokuro, revealing himself capable of being her rival in talent. Sousei no Onmyouji tells the story of two talented exorcists who are destined to become the "Twin Star Exorcists" and the prophesised parents of the Miko—the reincarnation of Abe no Seimei—who will cleanse the world of all impurities. - No-Harem, Arranged-Marriage, Subplot - This is okay, I didn't finish it. I might visit the manga again. It's a shounen primarily, but the romance subplot is more forward than others.


Okay, I must preface that the next 6 are Percy Jackson fanfiction that I read in middle/high school, so I am mainly going off of if I remember positive feelings towards them. I'm really going out on a limb putting these here so please don't roast me. I've never talked about these to anyone before, so I didn't really consider whether they were worth recommending at the time. Also, you will see a clear bias in my favorite pairing.

Artificial Engagement

The Queen's Champion

Titan of the Hunt

Heart By Heart

At the Bar


The Cycle Continues Part One: Reunited

Honorable Mentions

The Way of the Househusband

"Immortal Tatsu," the legendary yakuza who single-handedly defeated a rival gang with a lead pipe, is a name known to strike fear in both hardened police officers and vicious criminals. Soon after his sudden disappearance, he resurfaces with a slight change in profession. Now equipped with an apron, Tatsu has given up violence and is trying to make an honest living as a house husband. While adapting to mundane household tasks, Tatsu finds that being a house husband has its own challenges, from the battlefield known as supermarket sales to failures in the kitchen. Despite living peacefully, misunderstandings seem to follow him left and right. Gokushufudou follows the daily life of the comically serious ex-yakuza as he leaves behind his dangerous previous life to become a stay-at-home husband. - No-Harem, Married-Couple, Anime-Adaptation - This isn't really a romance focused one, but it has a little bit. The couple is already married. Also, it is hilarious. Worth reading just for the comedy.

Cooking with Wild Game

Asuta Tsurumi is a 17-year-old apprentice chef who helps out at his father's restaurant, "Tsurumi-ya." The eating place is frequently the target of harassment, but their harassers escalate things to another level when one day they wound Asuta's father and set the restaurant on fire. As a result, Asuta impulsively dives into the fire to recover his father's prized Santoku knife. Shortly after, Asuta wakes up alone in a forest. The boy has little time to make sense of his surroundings, as he is soon attacked by a wild boar. A passing Moribe huntress, Ai Fa, rescues him and decides to take him in despite her initial suspicions. As Asuta comes to grips with his new life, he gradually begins to understand the Moribe village's traditions and its political situation, which has left Ai Fa socially isolated. Fortunately, the young apprentice chef has an ace up his sleeve: knowledge of cooking from another world. Wielding the Santoku knife that mysteriously remains in his possession, Asuta sets out to introduce delicious dishes to a new and unfamiliar world. - No-Harem, Slow-Burn - Warning, uber-slow burn, enough that I took it down to an honorable mention. I read 3 volumes. I didn't actually see much progress. Maybe others have comment on that. Really nice slice of life though, so it's not like you have nothing while you wait. Especially if you like food.

Stuff on My TBR that May Be Relevant

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