Salvage surgery head and neck cancer


2020.12.08 17:49 patpadelle PlasticSurgeons

This is a subreddit for plastic surgeons (not for patients) discussing plastic surgery as a whole. This includes but not limited to Burns, Hands, Head and neck, Breast, Cosmetics, Urogenital, Gender affirmation, Congenital defects, Facial reanimation, and hypospadeias surgery.

2023.03.20 16:25 awakenedbigmac Ex Boss may be leaking my complaint about her to local newspaper

This is a long story but im really looking for some guidance.
Back in 2021, I worked in a local goverment department in NC. I loved my job and the people I worked with greatly. However drama began in my office that year with allegations of my boss and his assistant were bullying the office and having any affair. The affair allegations were not true per an investigation by the county and it was only certain employees who seemed like they had an issue with my two bosses. However the drama got so bad that my main boss did end up quitting partially also because he has gotten cancer.
Forward to a few months later. The county hired a new department head. She proceeded to them make everyone’s life hell. Multiple employees including myself were written up without warning for arbitrary reasons and she micromanaged everyone and eveything on the office. She also came into this position being extremely untrustworthy towards us as employees and started s hanging the locks to her office and kept cooped up in her office daily.
After I was written up, I sent a complaint to her bosses which are the county comissioners. I listed my problems with her and what’s she’s been doing in the office within the 4 months she had been working there. It was very straight forward and I assumed that since it was a formal complaint, my identity would be safeguarded.
Instead, the comissioners showed her the letter she then proceeded to treat me worse until I eventually found another position and left. On my last day she came into my office and tried to convince me that she hadn’t lied about anything when I had multiple others telling me otherwise. She tried to tell me she was “the most honest person you’ll ever meet”.
After that day I left and started my new job immediately after. 1 coworker followed suit and quit at the same time I did. The assistant manager was targeted and written up multiple times for things out of her control. She is now going forward with a lawsuit towards the county for the treatment she recieved.
Now 1 year later the assistant manager who is suing has received multiple civil court cases against her for cyber stalking and she recieved a no contact order last week. My ex boss is trying to claim that the assistant is signing her up for “funny text messages” (that’s what the charges say).
Additionally the no contact order that she received haas a letter from my ex boss with accused her of running over her dog, having a flat tire, etc.
She then goes on to list possible accomplices. This includes me and the other employee who quit, a former candidate for the board of comissioners, and a current comissioner. She believes all this people have something to do with the stalking that is allegedly happening. My letter to the comissioners was mentioned and she refers to it as “A disturbing letter filled with scorn”
I was made aware of this last week, I have not been happy since and I’ve been debating on seeking legal action. When I left that job behind I never spoke publicly about it or to anyone. I left it to leave the drama that was going on and I feel as if it has now followed me.
What really has upset me is the fact that apparently the news paper editor has contacted some members who were listed in that letter about this situation. I have not been contacted but the former comissioner candidate has. This means not only has she used my name in a court cause. She is possibly leaking that complained and my name to the press.
Nothing has come out in the newspaper but I am worried that it will. I live in a small town where everyone knows each other and my current coworkers all read the paper. It’s makes me feel disgusted that something that should have been kept private is not making its way into the media. People talk and gossip and I don’t want it to affect my reputation at work. I don’t want to be seen as a trouble maker.
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2023.03.20 16:19 cbb88christian Negotiation's Underway

First Next
Approximated Earth Date: 3. May. 2235
Teresh's ship entered the Sol system at long last.
Having taken a good two cycles of FTL (faster-than-light) travel to reach. Looking at his diagnostics, he began to perform a LRS (long range scan) of the surrounding planets. Surprisingly, planet No. 626 proved to be the only one with a stable atmosphere. It was perfectly understandable to someone like Teresh. The kooli's own planet was well suited to their needs and they had a difficult time surviving on gas giants or planets with an acidic atmosphere. He went to brush a few stray feather's out of his face, he had to be presentable for the new additions to the Valaxi Empire. It still amazed him, that out of all the child species under the Valaxi, that they had chosen his to make the first contact with the inhabitants of planet No. 626. It was a dream come true for himself and would reflect well on his family's name.
As he began to speed closer to the blue and green sphere, he was curious as to the level of technology the aliens possessed. From what data the Valaxi had collected from afar, it seemed they were around a level 3 class civilization. Having succeeded in attaining space travel, but not FTL travel as far as they were aware. His talons gripped the ship's steering handles tightly. There would be no mistakes on this venture, Teresh was sure of it. He could not return to General Vorin's home in failure, it would spell ruin for him and his family.
He sighed, exhaling a breath. His taloned hand reached up and flipped a few switches, broadcasting a hailing frequency on all available channels. Then, he activated the universal translator around his neck. As he spoke, it would relay his message in all documented languages.
Here we go, he thought to himself.
"Hailing any available, this is Shrike Teresh on behalf of the Valaxi Empire. Flight signature 07-12-2136. I wish to make contact with planet No. 626 and conduct diplomacy. My vessel possesses no weaponry, and I will consent to any scans that you request," Teresh concluded.
He flipped another switch to set the hail to repeat and sat back, exhaling.
Shrike huh? I guess it is a bit odd to hear it out loud. This is the first time I've been at the head of a ship, and the authority of one too, he bemused.
Typically, only the Valaxi piloted for high profile missions, diplomatic or otherwise. It was quite fair of them, they were the more intelligent, more advanced species after all. The kooli were thankful that they even got to fly Valaxi manufactured ships. It was obvious to anyone who has flown them that they handled far better, even if the controls were less friendly. As he thought to himself, a voice suddenly came over the communicator. Almost jostling him out of his seat.
"Vessel number 07-12-2136, you are to deactivate your hail and power down your engines. Failure to comply will result in your immediate seizure," the voice explained.
Is that what they sound like? He wondered. It was very different to anything he had heard before. His own people often spoke in a range of high to low tones, even reaching what some would call a shrill. The Valaxi's dialogue was much more refined and noble, often louder in tone due to their inherent dominance. Then there was the Bouva, Zeesh, Leo-oup, and so on, but nothing like this. The voice spoke in a very composed but neutral tone like his computer. Almost as if it was disinterested in the conversation. He wasn't going to complain though, he was going to do exactly what he was sent to do: comply.
He shut off the hail with a single switch, and then pulled back a lever to cool his engines until he was gently floating in space. He could see the speck of the planet in the distance. His ship currently listing by a larger, dark blue planet. From his scan, he found that it's composition was comprised mostly of dense fluids. Their crystalline structure being recognized as several substances and elements he was familiar with. Ammonia, methane, and water to name a few.
Teresh awaited the arrival of the aliens as he clicked his talons together, a bad habit of his. Hoping that the aliens were not looking to feast on his flesh. His eyes traced along the vastness of space, and then he saw it. He nearly jumped out of his seat as the ship grew larger in his viewport. It was easily five times the size of his vessel, dwarfing it as its shadow began to cast over him. The ship itself was squarer and more rectangular in shape. With a large body and small bridge elevated near the back. Far less elegant to the Valaxi craft that he was used to seeing, and even comparatively to the other species. Though, it was as much as he could expect from a fledgling species. Incredibly pragmatic, with almost no flair or elegance to speak of. It was mostly a dull brown and black in color, sporting some bright yellows with some kind of language written on the side.
"Computer, translate the writing to kooli," he announced, then drawing a talon around the script on the monitor in front of him.
A robotic voice answered him: "Analyzing input... Output: UNE Tarva."
As soon as he read the name, his ship jostled. He was able to catch himself on his chair, but found his ship gently being pulled towards the other.
Ah, so they've developed projected gravitational fields. Perhaps they aren't as primitive as I thought, Teresh concluded.
It wasn't the most impressive feat by any means, usually tractor technology was one of the first to come after space exploration, but it was a good sign. In part, it shows that this species is civilized enough not to immediately fire upon strangers or unrecognized ships. Even if they had, at least he would have perished instead of a Valaxi representative.
The front section of the vessel opened, revealing a large empty space with a few raised platformed areas and stairs leading to them. At the sight of them, Teresh noted that these creatures could not fly like himself. Most likely quadrupedal if he had to guess. He was actually quite astonished by how much space was afforded to his vessel. This was most likely a carrier, meant to hold many smaller ships during conflict. Why such a valuable ship was on its own is a question he couldn't answer. A flagship like this should have been surrounded by their navy if they had one.
"Computer, identify any and all weapons on the ships exterior," he spoke to it again, using the monitor to sieve back through the footage to find evidence of any.
Once more, he heard the generated voice speak, "Analyzing input... compressing footage... The query seems to possess: One, communication tower. One, hanger. Twelve, viewports. One, bridge. And four, unidentified objects."
The computer outlined them for him to see. They were located both on the top and bottom half of the ship, assuming it was mirrored. What he was able to see resembled a black box or base attached to a long tube. With what wiring he could see; it could be evidence of either laser or ion weaponry. Though, ion was a bit of a stretch considering their technology level. Still, for a flagship it was quite impressive. Much more heavily armed than most of the ships in the kooli's decommissioned navy. It paled in comparison to the Valaxi's capabilities, but it was important data to gather. Thankfully for them, they would not need a navy once they became a child species. The Valaxi always cared for and protected their children. They could rely on their military instead of their own.
There was movement in the corner of his eye, and he darted up to see a large hatch open on the platformed area. He strained his eyes as three figures emerged, his heart racing. They were much taller than himself, even matching the height of a Valaxi soldier. Wearing protective suits that were orange in color, he saw reflective, curved black mirrors turn towards his ship.
Was that their head, or another covering? He couldn't tell.
This clearly was their military. These soldiers were dressed head to toe in protective gear meant to shield them from harm. Their large mirror faces meant to intimidate their enemy and reflect their own fear back in them. Such cruel tactics and equipment, the abundance of weaponry on the ship, they had to be warmongers! Reaching down, he attempted to set off his distress signal, finding it disabled and nonfunctional. They had trapped him! He was going to be tortured or eaten and used as a weapon against the Valaxi. Teresh began to pray to his ancestors, asking them to protect his family and General Vorin's as they drew closer. He snatched the ceremonial blade at his hip, awarded to those chosen to go on these missions. His last show of loyalty to the empire was going to be dying an honorable death. He brought the blade to his neck as his ship's landing bay opened, feeling sharp pain in his neck.
"H-hello!? Sorry, the ship's nav can be a bit off-putting. It was from a prison ship," A voice called out. It was much softer, and lower in tone than the one he heard before. Its words echoing through his translator.
Sorry? Prison? I knew it, they're trying to manipulate me so they can imprison and torture me, Teresh panicked, though it stayed his blade.
He curled up in his chair, refusing to turn. Thankfully the translator masked his fear in his voice, "D-Don't come any closer, I won't let you take me alive!"
"Woah! Woah buddy! Hey, let's stay calm. I heard your hail, but it was garbled by system interference. We were just coming to pick you up," the voice replied. The fake sympathy in its voice sickened him.
Help him? Dressed in full regalia and on a prison ship no less! He would become a political prisoner at best and tortured to death at worst.
"You said this was a prison ship, y-you're going to capture and torture me for information. I won't let you!" Teresh yelled, though the translator could only do so much.
"Buddy, jeez! No! The ship’s nav was from a prison ship," The figure stopped, the steps no longer drawing closer. "Look, my name's Tom. I'm from Arizona. Let me take you back home, okay? Are you armed?"
Despite every instinct telling him to end it here, he swallowed and nodded. Then, realizing that they couldn't see him. His translator rumbled, "I have a weapon. Don't come closer."
"Alright, that's okay. I won't come any closer. Do you think you could put the weapon down for me?" Tom asked.
The Valaxi warned him about this throughout his training. Once surrendered, they would try to take as much information about the empire from them. Using it against him and his family. He couldn't bear to imagine the harm that these aliens could inflict on his home, even if the Valaxi were more than capable of exterminating them.
"Y-You're going to-" he began.
"I'm not going to torture you. No one is going to torture you. We want to help you. Take you somewhere safe," Tom continued, sounding almost compassionate in tone.
Even though he knew it was a lie, he clamped down on his beak. If there was a chance they were telling the truth, he could still complete his mission and bring honor to his family's name. There was always the blade if they weren't.
"O-Okay," Teresh muttered, the translator barely picking it up.
"Good!" Tom voice raised, causing Teresh to squawk in fear.
“Oh, sorry, sorry.” His voice suddenly softened again, "Didn't mean to be loud there. Do you think you could turn towards me now? Teresh, right?"
He flinched at hearing his own name through the translator. What options did he have? Either take a risk and listen to these aliens, or... damn it. He couldn't do it. Still a coward, even to the end.
With hesitancy, he began to turn his chair. Eyes widening as he saw the alien standing only a few of its strides away. It was bipedal, over a third taller than himself, towering above with two long arms with five talons each. Though, perhaps that was the wrong word since they appeared rather blunt. The bright orange of his suit was accented with black marks, including one down the middle in a perfect line. Teresh could see his own reflection in the black mirror of the creatures face. He looked small and afraid, curled up like a hatchling and clutching a small knife dotted with his blood. The creature held out its hands, causing him to flinch.
"O-oh wow. You... you're really..." the translator sputtered. Teresh heard a rumble from the beast as it composed itself, "My... My name is Tom. It's nice to meet you Teresh."
Although the taste of bile was in my throat, I swallowed and spoke, "G-Greetings Tom, my name is Teresh. I'd like to ask for your surrender."
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2023.03.20 16:17 LordIlthari Monsters Chapter 73: Meanwhile, in death

I am The Bard, who must admit some certain fondness for some of my subjects over others. Any historian naturally becomes attached to some characters, and obtains a bias towards them. I am no different in this regard.
It hung like the bones of an ancient lizard king, awesome even in its deiscation. Highest of the high places, casting forth the dying light of the age, and covering the cosmos in an intense metaphysical shadow. None were beyond its antumbra, and heaven and hell alike were bound within its deepest umbra. The weight of history pressing down on reality was bound up here. Here, amidst the ruins of what had once been the seat of the first and greatest king of the age, where dragons first caught fire in their breaths, where they sang and the world was changed. Here, in ruined majesty, lay the breathless word of awe and mournful nostalgia. A kingdom who’s shadow was graven onto the name of the world itself.
Akar. The first and true Akar. The plane of Io. The birthplace of Bahamut and Tiamat, and where the king of heaven died, and the end of the age began.
Many were the treasure seekers, pilgrims, historians, and other sundry who wandered those halls. Many more were the defenders. The servants of Bahamut and Tiamat alike, agreeing only in this, that the ancient palace, their once true and perfect home, should not be defiled by pillagers and scoundrels. So, suffice it to say the presence of the Black Hound Scoundrels was not welcomed.
Raymond’s sword was broken, again. He’d liked that one too, an ancient ilithid weapon, projecting a blade of light though a psionic focusing crystal. It had served him well, right up until the point where the blue dragon’s lightning bolt had overloaded the arcane technology and blown it up in his hand. He was also missing a limb again, but this was less troublesome than when he was alive.
He hit the ground hard as he fell back, rolling over and over on the black marble floor. Several things were definitely broken. They had found themselves near to their goal, in what had likely been a planetarium of sorts before the fall of Io. The room was filled with great orbs, each one depicting in full a different plane of existence, and how they moved and danced around one another in the great cosmic game. Each globe was about three times the size of a man in radius, and formed of material from the plane it depicted. The floor was graven of marble quarried from the negative energy plane itself, malefic energies safely disapated, and opposite it, a ceiling of glowing hypermatter from the positive energy plane supplemented the light of what appeared to be a miniature star in the center of the room.
That light was quickly obscured as the earth shook from the impact of an ancient blue dragoness landing in front of it. One of Tiamat’s consorts, fair and terrible as the sea and stars. The room crackled with static electricity, a storm system building within the confined space from the raw elemental power of the ancient dragon. She stalked forwards, reading another blast fit to reduce Raymond to ashes. As she opened her mouth, something hit her in the chin. The lightning backfired, and blew dragoness and defender alike back.
Pure angel-white armored boots tore up the surface next to Raymond as Elsior ground to a halt. Her wings flared, tensing for another burst of motion. Aegis snapped to the side in a ready position as the white lion guarded her friend. “Ray, you doing okay?”
”Fine. Just give me a moment.” Raymond replied. He focused, charging the depleted stone around him with his power, awakening a fragment of its prior energies. Once charged, he drew it up around himself, reforming his lost limb from the planar material. “Right. Good to go.”
”We cannot afford to be delayed by this guardian overlong.” Aegis warned through their shared mental link. “It must be removed rapidly.”
”Cualli can’t hold her. That’s how the last one broke.” Lamora warned. The changeling flashed into being, emerging from the form of a microscopic bacterium, only to deliver a devastating slash across the dragoness’s face. Her silver blade slashed horn and eye alike, sending the dragoness reeling with an eye cut out and a horn crashing to the floor. The shapeshifter goddess caught the blood from the wound in her palm, then in a crash of thunder, there were two dragonesses in the room, grappling with one another with fang and claw, tearing up the room in their struggle.
”Well best figure something out soon, we’re running out of zombies.” Keelah replied. The kobold, well, not exactly a kobold any longer, reported from the entrance to the room. Beyond it, the corridor was filled with the sound of clashing blades. She snapped around the corner, twin crossbows raised. Demonic energies began to charge from her weapons, then snapped out in a howling chorus as a rain of hellfire burst from the twin weapons. Tiamat’s lesser forces felt the sting of Avarice and Arrogance, as they rained amidst their ranks. She heard the chant of an Abashai sorcerer, and focused. The chanting devil had their spell cut off midway as Keelah fired a focused blast that punched through the sorcerer’s bodyguards and into his skull. The demonic energy exploded, rending the sorcerer to pieces and covering the nearby minions with gore. She fired another shot, this one a scything wave, and bisected a trio of white abashai that had managed to break through Raymond’s wall of zombies.
Despite her efforts, the undead were flanked, and annihilated. “Correction.” She updated. “We are out of zombies.”
”This necessitates a mightier minion.” Raymond remarked. “Cover me!” He pressed his hand to the black surface of the floor, and began to channel. At the same time, Lamora lost her grapple with the blue dragon, who threw her down with her teeth upon her throat. Unfortunately for the dragoness, biting a changeling is somewhat less than effective, as Lamora flowed like mercury away from the bite, taking on her true form and landing a devastating counter-slash along the dragonness’s wing. It turned towards her, roaring in anger, only to be checked and knocked back by a brilliant white flash.
As several of the dragoness’s teeth fell to the ground, Elsior landed, blade directed at the dragoness. “I’ve never fought a dragon before. Have to say, you’re disappointing.” This enraged the dragoness, who focused her fury upon the white lion, and the chamber shook with their battle.
As Raymond focused, the ground began to raise up into an arch. The sorcerer remained focused utterly on his work, defenseless as he chanted a ritual of awakening and binding. The minions of Tiamat surged forwards towards him, but then there came the sound of the unbreakable breaking. With a chime of shattering time, Keelah re-entered the fray. The fourth dimension cracked about her, as the demoness of time channeled the power of the abyss into the gears of the cosmos themselves.
She was about them and untouchable, fragmented across a dozen parallel worldlines, each one tangled in a gordian knot as reality bent at her whim. Her enemies were slowed, moving in molasses as no speed could avail them, and she likewise was a blur, her newfound abyssal power amplifying her speed, and time accelerating around her to push demonic enhancements even further. She was a one-woman platoon, single-handedly trapping the forces of Tiamat with enfilade fire, sniping their commanders into paste, blasting, ripping, and tearing the horde with a storm of abyssal energy.
Then, it was done. Raymond’s ritual completed as the gate stood ready. With a shout of warning, he activated it. The weak died instantly, reduced to their fundamental elements as the power of the negative energy plane ripped into the planetarium. A singularly unfortunate dragonborn was too near to the gate when it activated, and was pulled through, his body stretching out weirdly as the dimensional distortion inflicted a status scientifically know as “spaghettification” upon him.
Then from the gate came winged death, or perhaps death in the shape of wings. It came with an unsound, an unshriek, and an unboom. Its form perhaps suggested a vulture, or some other kind of carrion bird. But it was an impression, an image in the mind which tried to attach something known to the unknown thing. It was a storm of many black wings, and many eyes. About it was an unflame, an echo of the silence before the first words were spoken. The men of Akar called these creatures Nightstalkers, for they were the hunters and the dragons of the deathly plane. The shape of death, with it antithetical resonance, fell upon the brightest source of life, the blue dragoness. The two forces ripped against one another, lightning flashing desperately as silence smothered the thunder.
The scoundrels ran. “Minion.” Keelah grumbled as time wearily mended itself around her. “Minon. Minion implies you can control that thing!” She growled.
”Theoretically, I can.” Raymond replied. “Though I’d rather not try to put theory into practice right now.”
”So, in other words, you aren’t controlling it.” Keelah said.
”Why do you think I’m running too?” Raymond replied, and Keelah started running faster.
Then, they were there. They knew it at once, the presence of the place was palpable. A wrongness, a sorrow, a stain and scar upon the fabric of the world, invisible but impossible to miss or ignore. Raymond and Lamora felt their stomachs churn, their hair stand on end. Their senses screamed at them that this was a place nobody should be in, a place that should not exist. An absolute defilement hung upon the area, an abomination of desecration so severe that the world screamed around then.
Elsior fell to a knee, struggling to breathe from the overwhelming pressure of the area. Even empowered by Aegis, the dragonborn felt it more strongly than any of them, a death so profound its mere memory was enough to cause her heart to briefly stop, fitfully start, and then stop again. If she remained overlong, it would kill her. The effect upon Keelah was less severe, but without an artifact to protect her, she suffered terribly. The kobold was not a kobold any longer, her shape was formed from the material of the abyss, held together by her sheer ego more so than by any natural law. In this place, her scales screamed, writhed, and began to rip off her body into a twisting coil around her. Her skin boiled under it, her crossbows reknit themselves into her flesh. She retained her shape, her size, but more and more she leaned further away from the draconic heritage and into her new demonic nature to desperately avoid the ancestral agony gathered in this place.
It was odd, one of the simpler rooms in the great planetary palace. A dining room, with three chairs suited for draconic beings. It hadn’t been touched in centuries, nothing had even been here to shed the dead skin cells that would produce dust. Whatever meal they had been eating was long since rotted away, but the table was still half-set, broken plates and cookware scattered. It was as though it might have been left only a few minutes ago. If not for the blood, so much blood. It painted the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the furnitutre. Dried and set like stone into the fabric of the world, the blood of Bahamut, of Tiamat, and of their father.
This was where Io had died. This was where Bahamut and Tiamat’s war began, where they ripped their father’s heart from his chest and tore it in twain, split between them. It still carried the echo of Io’s dying scream, a memory potent enough to bring those with draconic blood to their knees. A memory potent enough to help fuel the birth of a new god of the dead.
”Ray. Grab it. Quickly.” Elsior ordered. “We aren’t meant to be here. Nobody is meant to be here.”
”On it.” Raymond replied, setting down his staff. It began to flicker, grey light sweeping out from it and scanning over the room again and again and again. Ghostly images began to form, memories of the room, playing back in reverse across the centuries. It had been so long that the process would take some time. “It’s set.” Raymond said, and placed a charm on the staff to return to him when it had captured the memory sufficiently. “Let’s get out of here.” He said, moving quickly back towards the planetarium. Everyone knew what waited for them there, it was better than this place.
”I just hope that your staff can get you the memory fast enough.” Keelah grumbled, piecing herself back into her false form. “There’s been trouble enough with-“
”Keelah, if you jinx us I’m going to kick you halfway back to the abyss.” Elsior cut her off.
Lamora stiffened. “Too late. She’s coming. Ray, timeline on that memory?”
”No idea.” Raymond replied. “At its current rate, maybe five minutes.” He started to sprint, and the others continued, Elsior picking up Keelah to bear her along more swiftly. “Maybe the nightstalker can slow-“
He went silent as they emerged back into the planetarium, and the world rent. An overwhelming dominance threatened to stop the hearts of everyone. The nightstalker turned its many-eyed gaze towards the rift and what came through. Drawn like a moth to a flame, it turned its gaze from the desiccated remains of the ancient blue dragoness and hurled itself towards the coming prismatic light. There was a sound like an earthquake, like a hurricane, and like a meteorite impacting as pure chaotic energy ripped it apart, blasting the apex predator of the Negative Energy Plane to dust in an instant.
The ground shook, as a thing unmatched in beauty and in horror stepped through. Five heads snaked on five necks, built upon a powerful body. The very magic of the room trembled as an impossibly powerful aura made the strands of the universe quiver. Five voices spoke in one, in absolute rage and fury, as Tiamat, queen of dragons, made her presence and displeasure known. “YOU DARE. YOU DARE, TRESPASS UPON MY HOME, IN THE PRESENCE OF MY PAIN? YOU COME, CRAWLING AMIDST THE TOMB OF GODS, AND THINK TO ROB IT, TO DARE TO STEAL FROM THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS?”
Lamora covered the scoundrels in a spell of invisibility, but Tiamat turned her gazes upon it and stripped the spell away with all the ease of a mother throwing away a sheet a troublesome child was trying to hide under. “I SEE YOU THERE, LAMORA, FALSE GODLING, PATHETIC LITTLE EXCUSE FOR A DEITY. EVEN IN YOUR MIGHTIEST FORM YOU WERE NO MATCH FOR ME. DO YOU THINK THIS LATEST MORTAL YOU USURPED WILL AVAIL YOU?”
”AND AS FOR YOU.” She finished, snarling at Keelah. “Who’s familiar are you again?”
Keelah grinned. "I am the goddamn eggshell caught in the universe's gears, holding it back from sheer spite even when I should be broken. I am the demoness of time, the greatest thief in the cosmos, the abyss couldn't hold me, and heaven can't keep me out. I am Ordani, a godslayer, and a true daughter of Io. In other words bitch, I'm your worst nightmare!"
There was a moment of stunned silence as Tiamat processed that she’d just been defied in the midst of her holy fury. Furthermore, that she’d been defied by a kobold of all things. A slave race dared to defy the queen of the universe? She was simply stunned by the audacity. Then, she ceased to be stunned, and became enraged. All five heads focused on the kobold, opened their mouths, and the battle was on.
A wave of annihilating prismatic energy roared towards Keelah, only to be intercepted by Lamora. As perhaps one of the most powerful attacks in the cosmos bore down on her, Lamora simply raised up her blade, and cut. The wave of destruction parted like the red sea, as Lamora stood, framed by the light of her blade and the apocalypse crashing past her and her party. She may have been the weakest among the gods, but to underestimate the heroine with a thousand faces was the utmost folly!
Elsior roared a battle cry and rocketed forwards, blade set to pierce the dragon queen’s adamantine hide. Only for her to miss, entirely. She paused, confused for a moment as Tiamat seemed to utterly vanish. However, as she looked down, and beheld a prismatic dragonborn, it was clear she had only changed her shape. A blast of supercooled acid hit the white lion, beginning to melt through her armor as it froze her solid to the ceiling.
Time shattered around Keelah as she took cover behind the planets, opening fire with a dozen piercing shots. They shattered in the air a meter from Tiamat’s form, and she calmly waved a hand. One of the planets Keelah was cowering behind exploded into corrosive gasses, instantly melting two timelines to goo. The gas rapidly spread, forcing Keelah to cover her mouths and hold fire, lest she risk igniting the gas.
Tiamat raised her hand, and fired a blast of fire. It was no stream as with a normal breath weapon, but a concentrated ball of heat and death, more akin to a fireball than a normal breath weapon. Raymond hurled a singularity at a nearby planet, dragging it off course and into the path of the fireball. The fireball hit it, and ripped the planet apart, sending magma spraying throughout the room. Irritated, Tiamat glared towards Raymond. A moment later, a bolt of lightning ripped out of nowhere and slammed into the mage. He went sprawling, body ablaze. As he rolled, he lifted his hand, and redicrected the energy. The power was still enough to blast his directing arm to ashes, but he managed to send the majority of the attack back at Tiamat.
The queen of dragons didn’t even deign to block the attack, letting the bolt of lightning pass harmlessly over her. She was the daughter of chaos itself, and no elemental magic could harm her, not even her own. The blade of Lamora on the other hand, could. As Tiamat was blinded from being inside a lightning bolt, Lamora struck, landing a glancing blow on the dragon queen’s arm. The hero’s blade slashed open the virtually indestructible scales, drawing a goddess’s blood. The dragon queen’s eyebrows suddenly raised, and she retreated away from Lamora, teleporting to the other side of the room and firing off another blast in her direction.
Keelah moved clear of the gas, and began hammering Tiamat’s position with fire. Tiamat once again blocked it, only for one of the bolts to vanish, replaced with a now one-armed mage. Raymond held a spike of pure negative energy in his remaining hand like a spear, and drove it into the wound Lamora had opened. The spear drove in, and wrapped itself around the dragon queen’s arm like a shackle. Tiamat’s eyes went wide, and she smiled briefly before moving in to rip Raymond’s head off. He shouted an alert. “Her magic’s sealed! Now!”
Tiamat’s foot swung with enough force to reduce the mage’s torso to paste, but it didn’t connect with him. Raymond vanished, and the dragon queen’s heel instead connected with the brilliant white armor of the White Lion. Elsior grunted, but she had traded blows with Ascalon, Tiamat was still murderously strong, but she wasn’t a fighter. “My turn.” She replied, stepping in and answering with an attack that hurled Tiamat across the room.
Tiamat landed on her feet, scales smoking but unbroken. Even a full-powered attack from Aegis could only bruise her scales, not break them. The power of a trueborn goddess was not something any mortal weapon, even an artifact, could overcome with simple brute force. That didn’t seem to stop the scoundrels though, as Elsior charged, Keelah opened fire, and Raymond hurled another singularity, this one aimed directly for Tiamat’s throat.
Tiamat smirked, and reality bent. Elsior found herself suspended in the air, dangling from invisible threads. A wall of crystal interposed itself between Keelah’s bolts and their target, and Tiamat conjured a staff of similar crystal, using it to focus a blast at Raymond’s singularity. The miniature black hole froze solid, fell to the floor, and shattered.
”Magic sealed my as-gh!” Elsior swore, as Tiamat crossed the distance and struck her. Her armor unraveled, and the dragonborn lost her grip on Aegis. She hit the ground sprawling, chest caved in and body starting to tear itself apart. It was like she was coming apart at the seams, body fraying like a damaged tapestry.
”It is sealed, this is something else entirely!” Aegis shouted, blade struggling in the threads before Tiamat casually picked the greatsword up in one hand to examine it like a child studying a new toy.
”Indeed, oh treasure mine.” Tiamat mused. “I am Tiamat, axiomatic to dragons. Where they are, I am also. All dragons, and all things that are called dragons. Do you understand? Besides, I could hardly call myself the greatest sorceress in the cosmos if I limited my self to only a single continuity’s power.”
Aegis tried to fight back, forming armor to restrict the dragon queen’s movements, but he could find no purchase. Every time he tried to manifest the restricting plates, he found his progress blocked by strange structures, as though the underlying threads of reality had been woven into armor for the dragon queen.
Lamora struck, and was deftly parried by Aegis. The two goddesses clashed for a few seconds. Lamora was far more skilled, but the gap in raw power was too much. Tiamat was toying with her. Keelah circumvented the wall of crystal and prepared to fire, but the wall collapsed into eyes, which intercepted her bolts with freezing rays of their own, before turning towards her. Raymond reformed his arm, and shaped a singularity into a staff. He swapped with Lamora, giving to buy the cleric time to heal Elsior.
With a two handed blow, Tiamat shattered Raymond’s staff, staggering the mage. Then, she drove the blade into his stomach, and twisted. Raymond was a spirit, not a man, but this was still a ruinous blow, and he fell forwards onto the blade. Still, he grit his teeth, and vanished, taking the blade with him. Lamora reappeared in his stead, and in a single motion, slashed open Tiamat’s throat. The dragon queen staggered back, before her blood flash froze, keeping her avatar in the fight. Lamora lunged to finish her, but invisible threads caught her blade and redirected it. With a thunderclap, her blade severed the shackle sealing Tiamat’s magic.
In a surge of power, Tiamat resumed her true form and hurled Lamora back. Her power was simply too great for the scoundrels to face even this aspect. Keelah opened fire, piercing the dragon queen’s hide with many bolts, and then ran for cover as Tiamat swept her tail out and threw half the room at the kobold in return.
Raymond leaned on Aegis like a cane, holding his essence in with one hand. He focused, mending himself to the point where he wasn’t about to disapate, but the effort left him weakened. He was practically out, and nothing was even slowing Tiamat down. He looked about, and gaze focused on the sun in the center of the room. He had one more gambit.
”I have an idea. Give me a moment, and time moving as fast as possible on that star.” He requested.
”I hope this one works Ray.” Keelah warned, and then fired a bolt. The sun began to spin faster. Elsior took back her blade, and with a roar of challenge, once more faced down the queen of dragons. Her brilliant blade met the fang, claw, and crushing tail of the dragon goddess, their blows shaking the ground, before Tiamat focused another prismatic blast and hurled her back. She advanced, as ruin came to the planetarium around her. The orbs were desiccating, falling back to their component elements and being drawn irrevocably to the star in its center, which began to swell and turn a sickly red.
Tiamat advanced on Raymond as he chanted, focus entirely on his spell. Keelah bombarded her but her attacks were only pinpricks. She prepared a blast to finish the mage, only to be intercepted by Lamora’s fist, and the bellowing roar of a Tarrasque. The sight of that monster drove Tiamat into a berserk frenzy, and she threw herself at Lamora’s mightiest form with an animalistic rage. She bit and tore and rent, tearing massive chunks off of the changeling. Her magic and breath weapons seemed forgotten as she screamed in utter rage and hate for the thing in front of her. All Lamora could do against the onslaught was defend, and not to protect herself truly, but to simply die more slowly.
”There’s not enough mass!” Aegis warned, as the last of the planets were dragged into the swirling maelstrom of the star.
”Then we’ll have to use acceleration as a substitute!” Raymond retorted, and hurled a singularity into the heart of the star. “Elsior! Throw the sun at her!”
Elsior looked at Raymond like he was crazy, and then shrugged. If this didn’t work, they were all dead anyways. She hurled herself into the heart of the star, trusting her armor to protect her from the incredible forces at work. With a cry, she threw the dying sun at the queen of dragons. “ORDER ON ME!”
Raymond threw the last of his power into briefly phasing the scoundrels out of existence, as the star impacted Tiamat and exploded. The queen of dragons was resilient, but even her armor was nothing before the force of a supernova. The planetarium vanished as the power of a collapsing star, even a miniature one, ripped it apart. But as the blinding light faded, Tiamat still stood, smoking and battered, stunned, and breathing heavily, but stood.
But so also did the scoundrels! Emerging back into existence, they attacked with everything they had left. Keelah blinded the dragon queen with an unendring rain of abyssal bolts, giving cover for Lamora to take on her true form and carve a ruinous slash across one of Tiamat’s throats. Elsior took the chance, shedding her armor and moving with enough force to create a sonic boom, she struck the weakened throat with all her might. In a spray of divine blood, the head severed, and with a crash, the red head of Tiamat fell to the ground.
Tiamat’s rage was incalculable. Her wings stirred up a veritable hurricane, throwing the scoundrels off of her as she took flight. The scoundrels looked up, and awe came upon them as the empress of dragons began to cast a spell of incomprehensible power. She wove together ley lines, the very flows of magic through the cosmos, and she wove them into being, not one, but five at once. Then, they began to align, one to each cardinal direction, and one pointed like a targeting beam directly at the scoundrels.
Raymond was unconscious, so Lamora called Cualli to hand and activated it. The scoundrels vanished into the staff, and it vanished into itself seconds before the spell began to activate. A beam of brilliant white light filled the air, and the ley-lines collapsed into themselves, into the directing one, and hurtled downwards. The scoundrels re-appeared on the Astral Hound moments before a spell powerful enough to shatter a planet detonated on the space they had just been standing. Akar’s ancient magics held it together, directing the force outwards. The plane survived, barely, with a seventy-mile wide hole punched through it, straight from one end to the other.
Keelah rushed to the Astral Hound’s helm and swiftly began directing the aethership away from Akar as fast as it could go, supplementing her own power to accelerate it through time and space even faster. They watched with baited breath, as they prayed that Tiamat’s aspect wouldn’t chase them down. Forutnately for them, the damaged avatar was destroyed by its own working. Within Ascalon’s domain, the true dragon queen raged that her prey had escaped her, though privately, she was mildly amused that any mortal had managed to push one of her avatars so far. It was the first time in a very, very long while.
”Did you get it?” Keelah asked as soon as Lamora restored Raymond to consciousness. “Because that was far too close to have been for nothing.”
Raymond focused on the staff, and projected out the memory. “Yeah, and I see why Tiamat didn’t want us to find it.” He replied. The hazy grey memory stood clear, as Io breathed his last, and his daughter wept for what she had done.
”Well that’s a fascinating little parcel of information, beyond simply its use in creating our own deity to counter her.” Aegis remarked. “But perhaps not the most actionable piece we recovered on this expedition. Did any of you notice what wasn’t there?”
”Even as supposedly the good half you’re an insufferable smart-ass you know that?” Keelah replied. “Just fucking tell us.”
”Takes one to know one mini-Mat.” Aegis replied. “There were no forces from Ascalon’s own armies. It was exclusively Tiamat’s.”
”Given her response to us being there, I think she’d have killed him if he tried to add his own.” Elsior replied. “Though, that probably wouldn’t stop him.”
”Exactly.” Aegis replied. “He’d only avoid having his own forces around to monitor the situation, and probably try to kill all of us, if there wasn’t already something else he needed them for. He’s preparing to make his move.”
”Another invasion of Akar?” Raymond guessed. “It’s only been fifty years. He can’t be ready for that so quickly.”
”We don’t take losing well.” Aegis replied.
”Fair enough. Even so, we’re going to need more information, and more firepower.” Raymond considered. “This memory is only a part of what I’ll need, and the energies required will take more than a little while to accumulate.”
”So,” Keelah considered. “What I’m hearing is that we need to break into heaven again.”
”And persuade an archangel to not only avoid killing us, but come with us. Because there’s no way Kazador will come with us without her.” Elsior groaned. “And maybe somehow pick up Matlal on the way, providing he’s not busy on the mortal front.”
”He will be. Can’t keep himself out of trouble that one.” Lamora remarked. “Though as for persuading Senket, I suspect she has words for Ascalon long overdue.”
”No doubt. So, in the interest of not having to ask Kaz to reforge me, please don’t tell her who’s soul is in this sword.” Aegis requested, with not a little fear.
submitted by LordIlthari to The_Ilthari_Library [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:16 MniTain38 Done with former bpd friend

Done with my former bpd friend.
I'd been "friends" (kinda hate using that word, given how she treated me for decades) with a 38 year old woman since our teens. I am 41 and also a woman.
This friendship was one of the worst friendships I had ever had. It sounds lengthy (approximately 20 years) but it was 20 years of on again, off again bouts of being.... "friends".
The sheer amount of mental abuse she has put me through. I can only summarize it in this post to the best of my ability.
Things she did to me during our friendship:
I'm done with her for good as of last week.
submitted by MniTain38 to BPDlovedones [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:15 TheAnemily I honestly can't believe how happy I am.

Surgery was 2/1, so I'm a little over 6 weeks out. I went from a 38JJ -> 38D (more like DD right now), a little over 5 lbs removed. I think my experience and recovery were as textbook as it gets. I really lucked out.
I truly can't believe how good I feel. I expected less neck/back pain, I expected being able to finally buy cute underwire-less bras, but the absolutely shocking thing is how comfortable I feel in my body. Yes, physically, but the emotional weight of actually feeling comfortable in my own skin is stunning. I never realized how unhappy I was before until now. I'm not stoic by any means, but I don't think I had ever cried with joy before this procedure. I have now.
To everyone on this sub that posted, thank you for helping me be brave enough to make one of the best decisions of my life. We may never (knowingly) meet in real life, but you sharing your journey has helped me on mine.
submitted by TheAnemily to Reduction [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:12 zukes42 The Body of the Glass Bird.

The Body of the Glass Bird. submitted by zukes42 to KeepWriting [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:11 loyal872 Finally GERD ( silent reflux ) free after 6 months.

I can't believe that I'm finally fully recovered. I had severe symptoms like bloodshot eyes, blood spitting, lost 30kgs, lost hair from the top of my head, my hands and feet were cold + my hands were red / dry and sometimes burning. I had crazy fatigue and I was not even able to stand for more than 5 minutes. My neck was tight and I got bloated, so I couldn't even breath sometimes and I had many near fainted situations, eventually I've fainted once. Big belches helped afterwards.
It was a crazy roller coaster for sure. I'm finally off of PPIs and not taking any medications. The only thing I've took was probiotics. I was able to gain 3 kgs in the last month and all of my symptoms are gone. I'm so thankful for the doctor in the ER, who gave me a 1 hour lecture about silent reflux. Imagine, a doctor giving in the ER someone 1 hour lecture, I'm sure they had a talk with her. I am about to write a letter to her.
Before I've met this doctor, I was at the same hospital with my issues and have visited 2 different GI doctors. The first one said to me I'm just stressed and I have no problem whatsoever. They've found everything all right. Ultrasound, CT, lab works, everything. Although my bilirubin levels were a bit high and I had the lymphotic system levels high as well. No infections or cancer was found.
The other GI doctor didn't take me seriously either. They were very unprofessional. My symptoms became more severe, that's when spitting up blood happened. The lady in the ER did a prick test on me. I had histamine intolerance, which She mentioned is connected with allergies. I knew that I've had some sort of allergy, because my bloodshot eyes were diagnosed as an allergy by many different opticians but no eyedrops helped me at all (prescribed allergy and inflammation eyedrops).
So this lady in the ER saw my red hands and immediately knew what is wrong with me. The same problem happened to her. Unfortunately, she lost all her teeth due to the silent reflux and they took out her bile. Obviously, that didn't help.
It was gluten allergy. She was telling me everything. Even told me what foods to watch out for which is gluten free in general but many times it's prepared in a glutenous environment.
I can safely say, after 1 year of long fight, I can finally live a full life. I was not even able to work. I was literally in bed for months and the doctors gave no shit about me. I'm only 31 years old as a male in Eastern Europe. Thank god this lady helped me. If not for her, I would be still miserable and probably dead by now.
submitted by loyal872 to GERD [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:06 Apprehensive-Cry-718 I (f24) struggling to put together the mixed signals my ex (m25) is giving me.

I would like to know if there’s a chance of my ex and I getting back together.
For context, we broke up about two weeks ago because I didn’t call him while out at a silent disco with my male friend and ended up sleeping over at the friend’s house without notifying him. ( I get I made a biiig mistake and I hate myself for it). I did not physically cheat though. He didn’t and probably still doesn’t believe me.
The thing is, because we’re in the joint house we share, we are amicable now and like friends… except for the fact that he still calls me beautiful, even gave me a kiss on my neck before heading out into the city a few hours ago, and even said he loves me too (maybe accidentally) when I said it to him. We even had breakup sex…twice, which he claims was due to emotion and not because of his needs. We will talk more later tonight but he insists we will take it “day by day”.
I still love this man, and he’s aware. I’m getting such mixed signals and it hurts me because prior to this, I was moving on.
TLDR: living with my ex who I love deeply, as we sort the living situation out, but feel like he isn’t treating me as just a friend.
submitted by Apprehensive-Cry-718 to relationship_advice [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:00 ThrowRAsdkjli7282 Mom (64F) was diagnosed with cancer, LDR gf (28F) angry I (32M) am spending so much time with family

My gf (28F) and I (32M) have been together for about 2.5 years, we took a trip to see each other recently. Shortly after our trip my mom (64F) was diagnosed with cancer. Last week things took a turn and my mom ended up in the hospital, I was exhausted physically and emotionally trying to support her and balance work at the same time. I did speak to my GF the night she was admitted and told her what was going on, she was supportive at that time.
She just got out of the hospital, this weekend my siblings and I moved her into my sister’s spare bedroom. I called my GF on Saturday morning but she was upset saying she would have preferred to speak later in the day. Of course this was not possible as I was expecting to be moving things and then helping my mom get setup and comfortable. I promised her we could talk at length on Sunday. I passed out around 8pm on my sister’s couch, feeling exhausted and just hurting over the situation in general. It’s tough to see how quickly my mom’s health has declined.
I woke up to a text from my GF saying she was very sad we could not talk in the evening. I wrote her back right away and said I was sorry I had so much going on but would love to talk also. I told her my plans for the day and said I would be free later as we had discussed. I also asked how she was feeling as she had recently come down with a cold.
I got no response. 7 hours later she texted saying it sucked I didn’t call and she thought we would talk today. I responded right away and told her I thought she must have been busy and that I was free to chat, and gave her a call. She texted back she was busy and would call in 30.
When she called, she was immediately upset that I “did not text her more.” This really confused me as she did not respond to what I said? I expressed that I felt this did not make sense, she became angry and started yelling saying that obviously I am less affected by our lack of conversation lately. I told her this was not true and really wanted to catch up, and asked her to do so with me. She accused me of minimizing her feelings. Said she wanted to hear me apologize for not communicating. I told her I was really hurting and could use her support, but she told me she was too hurt by what I had done to be there for me. It made my head spin. How was I to know she wanted me to text more while she said nothing? What sense does that make? How could she be this upset about that?
I talked to her for two hours. Near the end I wanted to cry, I had spent all day feeling awful about my family and whole life being turned upside down. She continued to refuse to talk to me about that when I would try and ask. Eventually I told her that I would need to take a break from speaking with her if I would need to fight her and this situation in my life, she told me she was certain I didn’t care about her feelings and hung up on me.
I don’t know what to do. Obviously I am in a rough state right now but I am failing to see how I deserved to be treated this way for not continuing to text her after she saw it and chose not to answer? Certainly she is allowed to feel like it sucks I have been communicating less but isn’t that somewhat understandable given the circumstance?
How do I communicate that this is unhealthy and I feel uncared for? I don’t understand why she was so upset when I was ready to talk and trying to give her the thing she was asking for.
TL;DR – My mom (64F) was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I (32M) saw my LDR gf (28F) of 2.5 years, she is upset that I have been spending so much time with my family and been less available to speak on the phone. Now she is angry that I did not continue to text her after she did not respond, going so far as to tell me for two hours that she was too upset to talk about what I am going through. Hung up on me when I communicated that I needed her support during this time. How am I to move anything forward with her when I feel so unsupported? Is there a way to tell her how this affects me and that I cannot fight her at the same time?
submitted by ThrowRAsdkjli7282 to relationship_advice [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:00 _call-me-al_ [Mon, Mar 20 2023] TL;DR — This is what you missed in the last 24 hours on Reddit

If you want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox, you can now join at this link


Polish Ambassador to France: Poland will be forced to enter war if Ukraine fails to defend itself
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Ukrainian officials express outrage over Putin's surprise visit to city of Mariupol, saying visiting under the cover of night "befits a thief"
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French President Emanuel Macron faces a critical test on Monday when the National Assembly is due to examine no-confidence motions filed after his government bypassed parliament on Thursday to push through a deeply unpopular pension reform, sparking days of unrest
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Alex Jones reportedly concealing funds to avoid $1.5bn payout to Sandy Hook families
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US Christian group accused of covering up sexual abuse of minors US news
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Texas abortion law means woman has to continue pregnancy despite fatal anomaly
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Study: 59% of Neighborhoods in Canada Within a 5-Minute Drive of a Cannabis Store
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Individuals who live in areas that historically favored men over women display more pro-male bias today than those who live in places where gender relations were more egalitarian centuries ago—evidence that gender attitudes are “transmitted” or handed down from generation to generation.
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Bird flu is associated with more than 330 seal deaths in New England — linking H5N1 strain to a large scale mortality event in wild mammals
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Close up of Pluto from the New Horizons space probe
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My homebuilt observatory-grade telescope that fits in the back of an SUV
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Sights and sounds from the surface of Mars.
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The Matrix is here! Using ChatGPT 4 to play as an ensign in Star Trek
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Anticancer Activity of Bee Venom Components against Breast Cancer
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Scientists grow antlers on mice, hope to regrow human limbs
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Americans, what do Eurpoeans have everyday that you see as a luxury?
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What made you suddenly lose interest in someone you were pursuing?
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What’s the secret to good sex?
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TIL that the reason we see fewer fireflies nowadays is because there are genuinely fewer of them. 1 in 3 North American firefly species are at risk of extinction, with some species already being officially listed as 'Critically Endangered'!
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TIL That, shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, Eugene Stoner, inventor of the AR-15, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, met near Washington DC and developed a friendship that lasted until Stoner's death seven years later.
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TIL a man suffering from fatal familial insomnia, a condition whereby you become biologically incapable of sleep, attempted vitamin therapy, sensory deprivation, narcoleptics, and anesthesia to sleep, which prolonged his life by 12 months.
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Bar chart of the summarized hight of all 2x2 LEGO DUPLO bricks my son owns, ordered by color. It's his first bar graph, so please be gentle. [OC]
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[Oc] El Salvador had the highest homicide rate in Latin America. Since its peak in 2015, the rate has decreased an incredible 92%.
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[OC] Heapsort algorithm sorting a reversed list
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Burger seasoning other than salt and pepper?
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Uses for miso paste?
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Keeping a Clean Kitchen
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[homemade] Tiramisu
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[Homemade] Fruit Platter pirate ship
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[homemade] NY-style pizzas
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'Catch Me If You Can' conman Frank Abagnale lied about his lies.
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The IMAX poster for Shin Kamen Rider, released in Japan on March 18th, 2023
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Describe a movie's plot via acronym of the movie's title
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Duck, Me, Watercolour, 2023
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Polygonal sculpture "Lions", Me, metal, 2023
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Underwater world, me, wood/resin, 2023
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I'm Bob Odenkirk and I'm feeling pretty lucky. AMA!
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‘Better Call Saul’ Season 6 is Coming to Netflix (US) on April 18
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Adam Sandler To Receive Mark Twain Prize For Lifetime In Comedy
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My dad made me take pics 4 his dating websites, here’s him yelling at me while striking a sexy pose.
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The size difference between my 1970 Honda and a regular pickup truck.
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I was riding my bike under a rainbow through a shower
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Little Piggy has the zoomies
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The Promise We Made at Sunset/夕阳下许下的承诺
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Galactic year (or a cosmic year) is the time that the Sun takes to orbit once around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. We move 230 km every second (143 mi/s) in orbit around the center (less than 0.1% of light speed).
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How a decorative glass plate is made -
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My sink sprayer has a tough spot remover. It shoots a high pressure stream down the middle that is surprisingly powerful, but a cone of water around it that blocks all the splashes
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Home Depot left the sprinklers on overnight in freezing weather
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This weekend I stumbled upon the gravestone for Michael Bond, the author of Paddington Bear.
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On April 28, 1988, the roof of an Aloha Airlines jet ripped off at 24,000 feet, but the plane still managed to land safely.
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Excited group digging up a crystal
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Colombian Angel Alvarado solves three Rubik’s Cubes while juggling them
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Edge-Man [OC]
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My wife's foolproof method of chopping onions with zero tears
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John Wick housecleaning service
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This boy’s reaction to seeing his newborn sister for the first time
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Baby penguin flippy flaps.
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The little cat pictured is one of my favorites
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submitted by _call-me-al_ to RedditTLDR [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 15:59 Steakhouse42 People need to stop with the lie that captain america is a "peak" human. hes superhuman.

People need to stop with the lie that captain america is a submitted by Steakhouse42 to Marvel [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 15:58 Old-Collection9285 Fear of recurrence

Hello everyone, I was diagnosed with cancer Jan 22 and had my thyroid and multiple lymph nodes (4 cancerous) on the left side removed.
A month later I also got Radioactive iodine.
Life seemed to be going well, had an ultrasound some months after in June and had a lymph node that was enlarged but not worrisome in the ultrasound.
Fast forward 9 months later.
My doctors forgot to prescribe the follow up for almost 2 months. I had to call them 3 times to get the follow up arranged.
Thankfully I will check next week but I discovered two seollen lymph nodes on the left side that I had the cancer just above my collarbone.
I am completely freaking out although it is only 2 weeks before I know what is going on.
Because of the lymph nodes that are swollen I am convinced that I have cancer again and I am really worried of that is going to happen next.
I am afraid for my life and although the year after the surgery has been great I am afraid of the recovery.
I have been looking online to find survival rates for recurrence but have not found something relevant.
Does anyone have experience with recurrence? W hat happened in your caee and how has it been since?
submitted by Old-Collection9285 to thyroidcancer [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 15:57 achromakeydreamcoat Should I try tret or adapalene 7 months post accutane or should I just deal with mild acne now?

I’m about 7 months post accutane, did a course where I hit 130mg/kg cumulative. I originally had fairly bad cystic acne on my jawline/neck, and some CC on my cheeks. Accutane cleared me up but I’m now getting pimples again. I have some CC and about every 1 to 2 weeks I’ll get a new larger pimple on my jaw. I also can feel a few bumps on my neck but they’re deep and don’t hurt and aren’t coming to a head. I tried to start tret 4 months post accutane but stopped after a couple weeks cause I was breaking out badly and was dating someone new and just couldn’t handle it at the time. My acne now is honestly pretty mild but I feel like I’m always paranoid about it getting worse again and I hate feeling this way. It felt so good after my course to not worry about breaking out.
I’m debating starting tret or something more gentle like differin/epiduo but I’ve also read a lot of posts saying it just made them breakout badly for many months and they had to go back onto accutane. I don’t at all regret accutane but it did cause some longer term side effects for me and I’m hoping to not do it again, as I don’t want these to get worse. Do you think I should try a retinol or should I just learn to live with my acne? I’m 34 by the way and really hoping I’ll just outgrow it altogether eventually. Any insight here is hugely appreciated!
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2023.03.20 15:54 throwawayyyyjamee One eye bigger than the other

Is there a cosmetic surgery that can minimise the differences in size between eyes, particularly when smiling? I find that it massively distorts the way I look when smiling as I can’t help but squint, and the difference becomes even more noticeable.
It is massively impacting my self esteem, particularly when having to do head shots for work etc.
Can anyone recommend any surgery that could tackle this, and could recommend U.K. based surgeons?
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2023.03.20 15:51 edward_radical Some brief thoughts on A Game of Thrones after rereading

It really can’t be underestimated how important this single novel was to modern fantasy literature. Nearly all of the new big names in fantasy for the 20 years following the publication of A Game of Thrones cite it as a massive influence. The farther we get from that publication date, the less directly true this becomes, but I do think that A Game of Thrones and its success (not to mention a certain TV show) created the modern adult fantasy landscape.
And so the question nearly thirty years later is:
Is A Game of Thrones even good?
The simple and resounding answer is, Uh, yeah. It’s pretty dang good!
There are so many reasons for what make A Game of Thrones a remarkable book. But many of the elements that make it so great are not the lessons people seem to have taken from it. What people remember are the twists and the deaths, the killing of main characters, of narrators. And so we have thousands of pieces of media rushing to shock you or to upend expectation. And because this is their primary goal—to get to the cool, mindblowing moments—they don’t bother to do all the work required for those moments to actually blow your dang mind.
The beheading of Ned Stark isn’t one of the defining moments of modern fantasy because Ned Stark was, in many ways, our primary protagonist and POV into this world.
The reason this moment mattered is because in every conceivable way, fantasy readers have been trained to expect their protagonists to make it through insurmountable odds. Even with the deck stacked against them, there’s always an out. And so even as Ned makes choice after choice that set his neck on the block, we still expect him to make it out somehow. Whether saved by Littlefinger or Varys or Renly or through the strength of his moral character. Even when he’s imprisoned, we expect him to somehow escape, for the rest of the series being his act of rebellion and revenge.
Of course, none of that happens. He loses his head and dooms his family. And the series that follows…well, we’ll get there.
I’ve read a lot of fantasy books in the last seven years. Since I had read very little genre fiction in my life, this allowed me to really plow through the best of the best when I finally came to fantasy. After that, I found more great novels and plenty of seemingly hidden gems. Of course, eventually the well runs dry and, sadly, I’ve been mostly disappointed with a lot of what I’ve picked up in the last two or three years.
Returning to George RR Martin reminded me why I fell in love with fantasy as an adult.
A Game of Thrones is not just a good book of fantasy literature. It’s the work of a master craftsman at the peak of his abilities.
The novel begins almost humbly. Even randomly. We’re out in the wilderness where some incidental worldbuilding is referenced in conversation. Then this little scene that seems to be about class differences in this world slowly twists into the realms of horror. In a fairly short amount of time, Martin turns a somewhat comedic expository scene into one drenched in dread.
From there, we shift to Winterfell, a vast castle held by a noble family. The world becomes small and tangible. Most of the cast of characters and narrators exist in the same location. He uses this small, consolidated cast to develop a vast world with deep histories, both in terms of lore and politics.
The novel is almost a comedy of manners at this point, albeit set in one where horrific monsters exist. But those are far away, little more than legends, fairytales told to children to keep them in line. In the real world of people and civilization, the only monsters are other humans. Some of them even called honorable knights.
We have two sisters whose personalities clash almost completely. We have a bastard son roughly the same age as the heir to Winterfell and these half-brothers seem to get along well enough. We have a husband and wife who came together out of political necessity but have found love. However, the wife hates her husband’s bastard son. Instead of resenting her husband, all her anger falls on the boy. We have two younger sons who will never be heirs to their father’s kingdom and are really too young to have any responsibilities.
There’s a lot to work with here! I’m actually convinced that Martin could turn this situation into a very different novel that never leaves the walls of Winterfall. Sort of a fantasy version of Downton Abbey.
Martin gives space to establish normality. We see these characters in their every day life. We come to understand them so that when their lives are thrown into chaos, we care because we know what they have lost. We know what they wish they could return to.
And chaos arrives, of course. The king, Ned Stark’s oldest friend, arrives to give Ned new power and authority in the capital, which is roughly a thousand miles to the south.
And the King Robert we see is not the one Ned remembers. This, too, could be a whole novel! How time, distance, and experiences cause friends as close as brothers to become strangers to one another. We could explore how those you love most are the ones who hurt you most. Maybe the only ones who really can hurt you.
But Robert doesn’t arrive alone, and of course his wife and her family are ones with a long history with the Starks. Not one that the Starks or Lannisters are willing to set aside to work together and bind the kingdom closer.
The novel is set up for court intrigue. It’s something, honestly, that few, if any, do as well as Martin. With great economy, he gets the reader to understand the complexity of the court, the moral flexibility of its members, and the ways in which they’ve allowed King Robert to bankrupt his Kingdom, becoming fully indebted to his wife’s family, the Lannisters. Along with that, we see, through Ned, how the Lannisters have degraded his dear friend, turned him into this insatiable fat blowhard more interested in his ego than in his kingdom.
Another unfortunate habit this novel set in motion is the vast sprawling polyphonic epic fantasy series. Martin definitely wasn’t the first to do this, but the success of this novel did lead hundreds of imitators to dust off their keyboards and hammerfist out drafts with dozens of POV characters.
Which, uh—many of these are very bad. The reason should be obvious.
I happen to be reading all of Roberto Bolano’s novels that I haven’t read yet (which is most of them, excepting the famous ones everyone already read ten years ago) and what I find in Bolano was what I also found in Martin.
Polyphonic novels are difficult. Trust me. I’ve written a few very bad ones! Part of what makes them difficult is differentiating the many different POVs so that they don’t all blur together. Most writers—especially first time authors—are just not equipped to handle the complexity and nuance required to pull this off. Bolano did this in a lot of subtle ways, using sentence structure or specific word choices, linguistic tics, to immediately create a new voice.
Martin is less subtle but no less effective. We know Jon and Daenerys from their self-doubt and we can differentiate them through their different primary concerns: being a bastard and being the daughter of a murdered king.
Sansa is prim and proper and enamored by court where Arya is coarse and clumsy in finery but fascinated by people, by the natural world.
Ned is honorable and taciturn where Tyrion is jovial, sarcastic, and biting.
Bran is a little boy trapped in his body and Catelyn is a woman watching her family dragged apart in several different directions.
What makes the novel live and breathe and thrive are the ways these perspectives juxtapose, clash, and weave together to create a tapestry that covers the continent. More than that, Martin uses perspective to dole out bits of information about the world to always the wrong characters, so the reader comes to learn more, put pieces together, but the characters are working with only a handful of threads to this vast tapestry.
Arya Stark, for example, learns about the plot against her father. But being a troublemaking eleven year old, she struggles to convey the information and then even when she blurts it out, the adults think she’s making up some confused story to get out of trouble.
And then, through these different perspectives, we learn things about other narrators. Through Jon and Daenarys, we learn of Jorah Mormont’s disgrace, but we sort of learn it in opposite directions. Jon hears it from Jorah’s father and understands it as a stain, a grand disgrace, and relates it to his own bastard birth to his honorable father. Daenerys hears it from her brother, who she hates, and from Jorah himself, who primarily blames Ned Stark.
And so these two characters destined to narratively collide at some future date have the same piece of information but understand it very differently. Since Jon’s father led the rebellion against Daenerys’ father, leading directly to her exiled life with her cruel brother, Daenerys is, of course, willing to believe that Ned Stark is the villain Jorah paints him. Too, when she finally meets Jon as a Stark, she’s, uh, not predisposed to appreciate his presence.
Returning to this novel, I now see the way he lays the groundwork for interpersonal and even political conflicts that won’t be seen for thousands of pages. But this is part of what makes the novel work so well, what makes the world feel so solid and full and lived in.
Then there’s the addictive quality to the story. This likely comes from a long career of being a celebrated and award-winning short story writer. Each chapter is its own tightly contained short story. These many stories weave together and build atop one another, layering the narrative and conflicts in fascinating ways that keep you turning the pages.
But there’s one thing that I think really holds the key to a lot of extremely successful fiction like this:
George Martin makes you feel smart for understanding the story.
I’ve never heard it described this way, but this is really a very old technique that requires quite a bit of subtlety. Nearly every mystery novel or novel with a mystery does this. And A Game of Thrones is full of little and big mysteries. I mean, what sets the novel in motion are two very different mysteries:
Who killed Jon Arryn? and Did the prologue have a zombie eat a fucking knight?
Structuring a novel around mysteries is always a good bet. It keeps the reader reading simply to figure out the solution to this question haunting the novel. If the characterization and conflicts are interesting, that’s a nice bonus. But what separates a novel people like from a novel people love, I think, has to do with this empowering sensation of feeling smart for understanding the text you’re reading.
Harry Potter, for example, works this way. Each book has its own little mystery to be solved by Harry and his friends. These different mysteries all end up being one big interconnected mystery to be resolved at the end of the series. But the book guides you to these solutions sometimes by beating you over the head with the solution hidden in plain view. So she pays out these hints here and there, sometimes with red herrings tossed in to spice things up (red herring could be the entire wiki article for Snape, to be honest).
The goal in each book is to have the reader discover the solution to the mystery a few pages or paragraphs or sentences before the characters state the solution. You’re meant to have the aha! moment right before Hermoine tells you the answer.
This is actually a difficult thing to pull off! If readers figure things out too quickly, they won’t like the solution. If they don’t figure it out at all until you tell them, they might perceive the solution as random or a sort of Deus Ex Machina solution. And so you need to place the breadcrumbs out in view to be followed, even when the characters go in the wrong direction, so that when they finally discover the heart of the mystery, you feel right there with them.
The Sixth Sense, for example, gives you everything you need to figure this out fairly early. We all know some asshole who claims to have figured out the twist within the first five minutes. But most of us didn’t come to this answer until Haley Joel Osment whispers that famous line. Instead of confusion, though, we inwardly shriek Of course!
On the otherside of this, you have a movie like Ocean’s Twelve, where the solution to the caper is left off-screen and has to be explained at the end of the movie. This made everyone in the theatre feel cheated for obvious reasons.
Martin does this dozens of ways throughout A Game of Thrones. We’re fed red herrings that the characters gobble up, but we’re given just enough to figure out what’s going on in almost every interaction. Even the parentage of Jon Snow could be solved in this first novel.
But we can’t know for sure, but we feel smart for putting it together: is Jon a Targaryen? We hope, but don’t know, but we sure feel like we figured something out. Of course, just as much information is given to imply that Tyrion is a Targaryen.
Game of Thrones is a novel that rewards the reader in many ways, but I think people underestimate this sensation of feeling smart for understanding a text. Without this, I don’t think Game of Thrones spawns a very popular message board still being widely used.
When I read these books in 2011, I can’t really explain just how many fan theories were out there and how well sourced and documented they were. This is before the TV show, mind. People had written thousands of words to justify their pet theories. They’d been debating these theories for almost twenty years by the time the show premiered.
I never wrote it down anywhere, but I strongly believed that Littlefinger was going to be the one left on the Iron Throne at the end.
And I had good reasons! Even after the conclusion of the series, I still think it makes more narrative sense for Littlefinger to be the king at the end. I’ll even tell you why if you really want to hear about it.
But this is the power of Martin’s writing. He built a world so solid and real, brimming with humanity and intrigue, with redemption and devastation. We can find what we’re looking for in the novel, but it is also a gift. A gift to be able to invest so much of our own thoughts and ideas into a story about imaginary people in an imaginary world.
And so, is Game of Thrones good?
I’d say that any book you can talk this much about is at least worthy of your time and attention. But, yeah, it’s real good, man.
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2023.03.20 15:50 Oliann1324 Lung X-ray Result

52F/5’2”/137lbs Non-smoker. No other medical conditions. Back pain and numbing of head and face. Results won’t be interpret until one week. Possibly Cancer? XRay image:
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2023.03.20 15:49 Kenosis777 Orthopedic K Wires, MRI Scans, & possible Prolactinoma

My partner 27F is trying to get an MRI scan to see if she suffers from Prolactinoma. The symptoms are pretty obvious(high prolactin, blurry vision, infertility, unusual menstrual cycles) and her brother has had a similar experience when it came to a benigntumor on his head.
My questions are if Orthopedic K Wires are unsafe with MRI scans and if so what are we supposed to do from there?
P.S. she has had foot and ankle reconstruction surgery in both her legs. On one side she has Kirschner wires and on the other side Titanium wires.
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2023.03.20 15:44 EtherealConnections Visiting with my grandma, great grandma, and great-great grandfather

For the first time I woke up early this morning and decided to enjoy the quiet over water and coffee. Over that, I enjoyed a visit with my grandma Nancy and my Great Grandma, and later in our visit my great great grandfather Robert, a brilliant man. It’s easiest to connect with spirits at night or in the morning when it’s quiet and there are zero distractions. When I sense spirits in general my third-eye area gets tingly and my head is drawn to where they are. When it is family I love I turn with great joy. When it is my grandma I can’t help but turn with more jumpy joy, exclaiming “Grandma!” She is my guide post, and for all my life I have been her Little Lighthouse. I was her reason to fight to stay alive when she got ovarian cancer. She passed when I was almost 4. IT was the most joyful and encouraging visit. I heard them laugh at a silly joke I told my wife over our goofy pets. Now THIS is the way to start the day. My heart is soaring and I’m smiling so much from my core.
Some fun things with my visits. My grandma Nancy often likes to be outback or on my deck looking out at my woods. Great grandma stays with me inside. Great-Great Grandpa will either join my Grandma Nancy or talk to me about academic things inside.
I met my great grandma when my great grandfather Thomas came around. They were troubled. Thomas was buttering me up with his sweet talk and all about how we would have bonded had I got to grow up a bit with him. When he started to really stick around and show more of himself, he became draining, demanding of attention, and threatening. My great grandmother came around desperate for help and to warn me about him. My grandma needed her parents crossed over. Thomas was holding Ruth back and Ruth was an afraid to to cross over in fear of going to hell because she had a few miscarriages and had a still-born. I learned Thomas was abusive, especially after WWI where he fought with all his brothers and father. He called her a whore and a lot of other things and trashed her making her wonder what kind of woman she was being of the loss of babies. This was all during the stressful Dustbowl too. When she came to the house she was in a sleep gown with blood representing baby loss. Raven haired beauty in need of help. I got Thomas to crossover, then after a talk with Ruth about how hell isn't real, that she wasn't going there, the baby losses weren't her fault, and that she was going to be more than okay, she happily crossed over. She said, "I never thought I'd meet my great-granddaughter, and she'd be the one to save me. After going through the process of crossing over and getting peace, she started visiting. She is so joyful and thoughtful and bubbly. Loved to bake. She's been encouraging me as I learn.
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2023.03.20 15:32 DisappointmentV Neck patterning issues

So I’m having trouble with the neck part of my fursuit head: I don’t have a mannequin head that I can make a tape pattern out of and my relatives don’t like wearing the head for more than five minutes because it’s too hot in it.
How can I make a good pattern for the neck and shoulders? Or if you know any good printable ones, could you send me those?
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2023.03.20 15:16 0xA82EAD Soul surgery

Hello everyone, long time lurker here as someone who suffers from GAD I have benefited a lot from reading threads and comments in this subreddit, and in the midst of my process of healing and taking care of myself I've wrote some words to symbolize or speak my heart out loud about what I'm going through and the huge progesss (according to myself) that I've been having, and though I would share with you in case it resonates with someone. If it would make just one person feel better it means the world to me!
Here is it:
"Here I am, performing surgery on my own soul. The surgery room is my mind, and I am the head surgeon. The scalpel that opens tissue is my desire to become the best version of myself, the scissors are my desire for knowledge and expanding my consciousness, the needles and sutures are my discipline in precisely targeting hard-to-reach aspects of my soul. The retractors that keep it open are my commitment to the healing process and sticking by it, and the suctions that remove debris are my positivity in removing toxicity and negativity in all their forms. The nurses and assistant doctors are my family and supportive close ones, and the skill that flows through my hands is my own power of will exercised by the teachings of the great minds that contributed to human knowledge and legacy."
Hope you like it, would love to get your own interpretations if you'd like.
Happy Monday and sending out support to anyone struggling 🙏
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2023.03.20 15:09 beelicious_honey Trouble with kill shot on Idaho Pasture Pigs

We've raised, slaughtered, and butchered a total of seven pigs now at home. The first four were Berkshire and I had no trouble with the slaughter part with any of them- used milk to get their head steady and they dropped straight away, lights out immediately, no suffering. I use a magnum .22 with hollow point rounds.
Last summer we wanted to try IPP to see if they'd be easier on the ground. We got what looked like two true IPPs and one more Berkshire-esque, ie longer snout, less angled forehead. The more Berkshire-esque one again was immediate knock down, no problems. But the two IPPs took two shots- with the second one being the immediate, knock-down shot. Also, I noticed on the second pig the two shots were basically touching each other, so placement was exactly the same.
My thought is on the IPPs since their forehead is a bit more higher angled maybe the angle of the gun was off, especially since the entry point on the second pig for the second shot was right next to the first shot.
I've always tried to do a 90-degree angle to the forehead at the X connecting the ears and eyes. But maybe on pigs with a higher forehead angle that should be more like 70-80-degrees, ie bring the butt of the rifle closer to the ground and aim more back towards their neck?
I'll always be a meat eater but providing the best quality of life and trying to reduce & eliminate any suffering is one of the main reasons we decided to raise our own meat. So missing the first shot on the two IPPs was very tough for me and I don't want to put an animal through that again.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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2023.03.20 15:02 DFbooks [Complete] [75k] [Sci-Fi/Thriller] Repo

Hi! I'm looking for beta readers for my first novel.
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Harper Chen escapes her trailer park life only to end up in a car accident that claims both her legs. When an experimental cybernetic limb program offers her a chance at mobility, she joins only to discover that she must compete against forty other candidates to win the prototype. With no money, no family, and no friends, she will be forced onto the streets unless she fights for her chance to walk again. The challenge pits her against ruthless competitors, a program that puts money over people, and her own ideas of being whole.
You might like this if you're a fan of Red Rising or Ender's Game.
TW: violence, military, amputee, no romance
I'm looking for general feedback on the story. Where is it slow? What isn't working? Did anything take you out of the story?
I'm interested in swaps. I'm a fan of Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror, Crime, and Fantasy.
First chapter is below. Thanks!
Harper’s fingertips swept against the gas station candy, tracing their smooth neon logos, crackling their plastic wrappers, and reading the chocolate-brail textures underneath.
“Declined.” The cashier slid Harper’s credit card across the counter.
Harper snapped out of her impulse candy trance. “Sorry?”
“Your card was declined. Do you have another?” His words echoed through the cavernous mom-and-pop gas station that served as a pit stop for long-haul truckers and families on vacation. The shop was crammed with dented wire racks filled with expired treats and a glassed-in wall boasting a confetti of colorful drinks.
It was a mistake to stop in front of the boxy, 1970s, gas pumps but she didn’t have a choice. Her gas tank neared empty. Harper had searched for a credit card slot even though the analog flip numbers should have been an obvious sign. Against her better judgment, she pumped first then came in to pay.
Even with the antiquated vibe of the store, the place was packed with people. Despite Harper being the only one in line, the cashier’s voice carried uncomfortably loud. She craned her neck spotting all the shoppers peeking up from their browsing, zeroing in on her humiliation. All accusing. All judging.
Harper curled her toes in her Doc Martens, but she couldn’t keep her face from flushing red. She lowered her voice to bring the cashier’s volume down. “Could you try it again, please?”
The cashier’s shoulders dropped and his expression said, ‘It’s not the machine, it’s your card,’ but at least he was polite enough not to say it. The card lanced through the reader. Magnetic impulses translated into data, reinterpreted, and launched through the phone lines, out across the surrounding New Mexico landscape along with Harper’s desperate hopes.
Please go through. Please go through. Please go through.
“Declined,” he said. “Do you have cash?”
Harper wilted and pretended to flick through her pocketbook. “Do you have a Tyme machine?”
“A what?”
“A Tyme machine.”
His glare said he didn’t want to deal with crazy people today. “Are you joking?”
Harper was confused over his reaction; then it hit her. “A— A cash station.”
His scowl dissolved, making the connection. “Oh, an ATM? Back in the corner.” He pointed to a corner of the store next to the beer cooler. “Why were you asking for a time machine?”
“That’s what we call them where I’m from. The company that runs them is called Tyme. You know, ‘Tyme is money,’ I guess.”
“That’s funny. And where are you from?”
“South Bay. South Bay, Wisconsin.”
“Oh yeah? I went to school in Indiana. They called them Shazam machines.” He smiled at her and leaned in, inviting a chat.
Harper wanted to be conversational. The cashier wasn’t much older than her. He was eighteen, maybe nineteen, with a nice smile, but it was hard to be friendly right after being called out as a pauper.
Harper smiled and awkwardly bobbed her head, eyes falling to the floor. She faded a step back as she squeaked, “Okay, thanks.”
Harper stopped at the cash station and yanked a debit card from her pocket. She glared at the small photo printed on the card, despising her flat, shoulder length hair and Plain Jane appearance. If she had more confidence, she might flirt her way out of this situation. She forced down the growing dread in her chest. Dizzyness hit her as the dread grew, consuming her, cutting her off from rational thought.
She plunged her debit card into the machine, punched in her PIN and scanned the store while the satellite uplinked to her account. Security cameras hid behind black domes spread across the dot-speckled ceiling squares. Gigantic concave mirrors perched in the corners. A second employee mopped up in the coffee section.
The ATM chiseled out a receipt with a rat-a-tat and spit it at her. Checking account balance: Negative fifty dollars. The bank would tag on an extra forty dollars for being negative. She believed that this was the bank’s way of saying, not only are you broke but now you’re more broke.
Harper weighed her options, either beg for money from patrons or shed some tears at the cashier. Each embarrassing, but none worse than calling her stepmother for help. Gretta wouldn’t help anyway, she would offer some excuse or make such a big deal of the request that Harper would regret asking. Harper had tried to avoid her help since she was thirteen and she didn’t want to start now. Her friends back in South Bay would help if she hadn’t dropped her cell phone in a toilet back in Kansas.
Her biggest worry was getting to Los Angeles. She always dreamed of a life on the west coast, imagining the Hollywood lifestyle, the beaches and, for someone from Wisconsin, the year-round heat. Los Angeles promised an escape from her stepmother, her stepsister, and the way they would disparage her even when she was in the same room. The lights of the big city promised a life outside her small circle of friends and their lives that settled into nine-to-five jobs or full-time motherhood. Harper was seventeen, but South Bay had a history of trapping people. For those whom didn’t move on to college, there was either a low paying job waiting for them, marriage to a guy they went to high school with, the military, or moving far away. The military didn’t look so bad now that she was stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Harper massaged the negative balance receipt between her forefinger and thumb. Could she give the gas back? Let them siphon the tank and let her go on her way? She’d end up stranded in the nearest town, but it was better than being arrested.
She weighed all the options and settled on one. Her only one.
Harper shuffled up to the cashier and attempted to avoid eye contact. “I need to go home and get some cash.”
The cashier pried his eyes from his Tohatchi Times newspaper. “All the way back to Wisconsin? I don’t think I can wait that long.”
“Um…” she mentally kicked herself for not seeing that one. “I mean home base. The hotel.”
The cashier brightened up, looking interested. “Oh, what hotel are you staying at?”
“The… the one up the road a bit.” Again she scolded herself. Gotta keep ahead of this, she thought.
The cashier’s friendly demeanor soured. He was on to her and Harper’s hopes of lying her way out of this fell into the toilet right next to her phone.
“Listen. I’d let you slide but it would come out of my check. Isn’t there anyone you can call?”
Yes. There is, but nobody I want to call. I don’t even have money to make the call. She imagined the smug smile on Gretta’s face as she declined her collect call.
“Where’s your phone?” Harper asked. The cashier pointed outside where a bank of three, silver kiosks perched at the edge of the gas station lot. Harper’s navy blue and corroding Chevy sat next to a gas pump at the midpoint.
“Thanks,” she said and forced a half-hearted smile. “I’ll be right back.”
She stepped outside into the dry New Mexico heat, relieved to escape the air-conditioned degradation. There was only a double pane of glass between her and the audience inside, but it was a welcome barrier. She still sensed their eyes burning holes into her as she crossed the asphalt.
Like an out-of-body experience, she watched herself reach the halfway point, open her car door, turn the ignition on and peel out.
As she left the gas station in her wake, she reassured herself she would pay them back when she made it to Los Angeles. She demanded it of herself. She wasn’t a thief. Her luck would change once she got there.

Murray leaned back in the squad car’s driver’s seat, parked in his favorite speed trap. ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” bubbled over the radio, one of his favorite songs, even though he’d never admit it in front of the fellas at the station.
This spot was more than a speed trap to him. It was a bit of peace and quiet from the wailing grandkids at home. Murray’s son left his children behind and ran off on a crystal meth binge with his on/off girlfriend. For the past three years, Murray, and his wife had taken care of their grandkids, Alex, and Samuel. Murray was reluctant to take on the responsibility, but the kids would never have a good life without them. He was in his early sixties and nearing retirement while his wife had already retired. She was elated to have young laughter in the house again while Murray looked forward to peace, quiet, and extended fishing trips. But he was happy that his wife was happy, and it was a blessing to be so close to his grandkids. A second chance to do it right, he thought.
Even though his squad car sat tucked behind a billboard for Taos Mountain Casino, he wasn’t hiding. Only locals traveled this road after the new freeway was built five years ago. Folks from the town would drive by and wave and he would wave back, knowing each person by name or at least recognizing the truck they drove in. He was such a fixture that the locals always slowed down, which meant he didn’t need to pull anyone over, enjoying a quiet morning.
This morning he sipped his coffee and daydreamed about his weekend fishing trip on Lake Winopea when a navy blue blur flew through his peripheral vision. It took him a second to register what it was and then a wash of frustration overcame him. The squad car’s camera stopped working about three months ago and he’d been waiting for a replacement. Without the extra set of eyes, he contemplated letting the car go and getting back to that happy place, but his conscience wouldn’t let him. It would bug him the rest of the day, nagging at him, like the cries and wails of a six month and a two-year-old baby at home. No peace and quiet for Murray.
He leaned forward, flipped the siren on, shifted to drive and hauled out of the dirt path, sending a cloud of yellow dust over the casino billboard.

Harper barreled down the road, clutching the steering wheel, white-knuckled and eyeballing the rearview mirror. Any minute now police cars would pull up on the horizon and stop her. She imagined a fleet of squad cars trailing her from a helicopter camera point-of-view, capturing the high-speed chase and broadcasting the whole thing on the news. She fantasized about her Thelma and Louise moment, giving the finger to everyone as she coasted over the cliff edge.
But in reality, nobody was behind her. Random cars peppered the freeway, but no police cars for the past ten miles. How long would it take for that cashier to call the cops, describe her car, and show a picture of her license plate on the low-resolution, black and white video footage? How much longer for the cop to radio all the other squad cars to be on a lookout for a navy blue Chevy with a ditzy broke girl behind the wheel? Did the cashier even bother to call? Was she worrying for nothing? Did they arrest people for sixty dollars worth of gas or would the police have more important things to do?
So many questions spiraled through her head. This wasn’t the fresh start she’d imagined. And the biggest question: If this is the position I’m in now, how will I survive when I get to Los Angeles? She wasn’t going there with her head in the clouds. She wanted to believe she was realistic. Pragmatic. Harper was wary of the seedier side of the city and prepared to make an honest living, but there was a small voice in her head that said this would get worse.
I should have waited. I should have saved more money and put up with South Bay a little longer. I should have done it right. Her father always said she was passionate, a nice way of saying stubborn. When she got her mind caught up in something she had tunnel vision, the rest of the world wasn’t important. When she set her mind on LA, that was it. Harper packed up what she had, which consisted of an old HP laptop, two garbage bags full of clothes, some canned food, and drove. Watching Milwaukee fade into the distance liberated her. She had escaped. She was free. All she had to do was drive.
The plan was to sleep in the car for a few days. She had a gym membership with a national chain to take showers at one of the LA branches. Then she’d apply for jobs as a waitress or cashier at a mom-and-pop shop. Maybe get a bed at the YMCA. Harper would build herself from the ground up and she’d be able to tell everyone that she was a self-made woman. These ideas were ridiculous, but she wanted out. Desperation convinced her anything was possible.
Harper wished her father were still alive. He would have helped her, given her money and encouragement. He’d have had a friend in LA to connect with. An old photo of him clung to the dashboard, one of the few treasured belongings she brought with her. She prayed that he was a guiding light to this new world of freedom. Nothing would get in her way. Especially a stupid gas bill.
If the police searched for her, it would be on the freeway. She’d play it safe and divert onto a side road up by the billboard with the buxom blonde winking at her and throwing poker chips in the air.
Harper’s hand-me-down GPS told her that the side road would add an extra hour to her trip. She didn’t want to be in the state any longer than needed but she wanted to stay off the obvious routes. Her GPS labeled it the scenic route.
The narrow road piggybacked on a set of bluffs carved into the yellow earth separated by a metal guardrail. The path bent and twisted, each turn revealing a new vista of the expansive New Mexico landscape below. The view drew her forward and forced a gasp from her lungs. The stretch of yellow desert led to mountains and patches of faded green brush in between. Pillowed clouds hovered over the mountain peaks, letting shafts of sunlight dance across their sloped walls. A curled metal guardrail sat between her and the panorama.
The beautiful view eased the tension in her shoulders. Harper smiled and told herself she’d make a great criminal. Everything had happened without a hitch. Then the blue and red lights flashed in her rearview mirror. She threw the idea of career criminal out the window and tears welled in her eyes. Images of a trial and a jailhouse sentence flashed through her head. She cursed herself for taking the side road as the lights closed in, pulling up in her rearview.
She couldn’t believe she would be arrested for skipping out on gas. The police would call her stepmother and she would make Harper sit in jail for a few days before paying the fine. Gretta taking one last swipe at her was more humiliating than the idea of jail.
Tears glided down her cheeks with a swell of defeat. I’m so close. So close.
Harper flipped the turn signal and eyed a gravel shoulder, but as the cop car loomed behind her, that old stubborn anger washed over her fear. Her dreams ripped from her. The long reach of a small town only taunted her with the idea of escape. She refused to go back, especially when she was so close. So, beyond all reason, and without thinking about the consequences—
She hit the gas.

Murray closed in on the navy blue Chevy, taking the curves with a bit of caution. He’d seen a lot of drunken kids at the bottom of these bluffs in a twisted metal heap of a car. The guard rails couldn’t stop a speeding car from falling off the edge.
As he neared, the Chevy’s signal flipped on. Good, he thought, some quick paperwork and I can get back to my coffee. As they slowed on the dirt shoulder, the Chevy lurched forward and pulled away. Confusion marred Murray’s face. People didn’t hit their breaks then pull away, they either did one or the other.“Okay, buddy, okay.” Murray hit the gas in pursuit.
Murray leaned forward, alert, body tensing, thinking through the possibilities. They both weaved in and out of the curves, picking up speed. Murray eased off the gas to avoid getting them both killed. He snatched the CB, calling in the car’s make, model, plate, and location. The navy blue Chevy disappeared around the turn and an explosion of chaos roared across the landscape forcing Murray to slam on the breaks.
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