Random thoughts, fantasies, gripes, and irrationalizations:

by Darryl Branning

Drunken Boar

Drunken Boar is the name of a tavern I created for a game. I thought I was punny. The details of this tavern don't matter as much as literacy. A typical middle ages fantasy setting is mostly populated by illiterate people, so the tavern signs are pictures.

There were three role-players in the group. Since the game didn't progress very far I don't remember the characters they were playing. The players I remember. I'm going to call them Peace, Wit, and Fodder.

I was trying to describe the sign... perhaps I encouraged them to guess. A more experience Game Master would have told them the name and perhaps drawn a picture.

I believe Peace tried to guess the name a couple of times. About the time I started to get a clue I should just tell them, Wit, being Wit, shouted "Dizzy Pig!" Or maybe it was the other way...

The Dizzy Pig Bar and Grill was born. A nice diversion: Peace created a news letter; we sold franchises.

A few years later, the old joke was still floating around. I used it briefly for a player name in Diablo. I took my computer over to friends house on weekends, to play on the local network, where one of the guys suggested I spell it "d.z.y.p.i.g"...

I played with several variation over the years, and finally settled on dzyjak for no reason I can think of... other than it doesn't have "pig" in it :-) ...

What is dzyjak?
1. An over used joke
2. Jack of spins, master of questions

Digital space

I've been reluctant to enter the 'blog' age. Email was good a few years ago. Now we got SPAM, but we can't call it SPAM anymore. We have to call it ad-mail or some such.

And there's the part about exposing myself to a very large potential audience. Having been through a number of college level writing workshops, I'm reasonably certain I can take it... I think.

Mostly, I think this is a nice quiet place for ideas.

Email used to be quiet. Then someone hooked me up with ICQ a few years ago... got me a six digit ID... lower six digits. ICQ was quiet back then too. I got out about the time everyone started making a big deal over the IDs.

So now I have this property somewhere in cyberspace. If it gets too noisy here, (like that will ever happen) I'll go somewhere else.

For now, I have this space to express my ideas. The landscape is endless, and I'm the only one here. The space is defined only by the information it keeps.

Pip the Cat

Pip is small, and has off-white fur with flowing patches of cream and brown. Her eyes are blue. She doesn't like to be touched and is prone to warning strikes with her teeth. I adopted her this summer.

She had been hanging around my house. I lived in a crowded neighborhood, and since Pip was friendly (if reserved), I concluded she must belong to someone. One day I noticed this little orange kitten following her around. I gave Pip a scratch on the chin, and when the kitten came up to see what was going on, I picked it up.

The kitten started struggling and then bit me. He had to work at it to draw blood, so I held on hoping he would calm down. His behavior also set off Pip, who attacked me quit effectively. I let go, the kitten ran to hide under my shed, and I started to reconsider my earlier conclusion. I asked around the neighborhood, but no one would claim either of the cats.

I adopted them both.

Now having three cats, I had Pip fixed as soon as possible. One day, a few months later, I noticed Pip was having trouble breathing. I watched her for a couple of days, and when she didn't get any better, I took her to a vet. The vet kept her overnight, took some x-rays, and diagnosed Pip with a heart condition common to cats.

Pip had to take pills twice a day. One to slow down her heart rate, and a diuretic to draw the fluid out of her lungs. But three months and several vet visits later, Pip still wasn't getting any better.

The vet, being talented and concerned because Pip's lungs still seem to be full of fluid, started looking for other problems. The vet did a barium x-ray, and discovered that Pip had an internal hernia which had allowed %30 to %40 of her internal organs to migrate into the chest cavity, thereby putting pressure on Pip's lungs. The lowered lung capacity had caused Pip's heart rate to increase and mimic that common heart problem.

The condition was probably congenital, and later aggravated by physical trauma.

The vet told me it was one of the most complicated surgeries she had ever done. The vet also assured me that with her organs back in the place and the congenital defect repaired, Pip won't suffer the same injury again. Pip has been out of surgery for three days, and seems very very happy that she can breath again.

I've spent over $1200 making her healthy. I'm also fairly certain that Pip was born feral, and domesticated by illness.

Buddy the Cat

Buddy is an orange tabby with green eyes. He is friendly, likes to play, and is especially fond of his own voice. It's not unusual for him to run down the hall, stop to meow into the bathroom, and then chase the echo on down the hall. The only conclusion I have been able to reach is that he likes the sound it makes.

He is Pip's offspring--the only one in the litter to survive long enough for me to notice there were kitten's around. Pip was always sickly, so Buddy may have been the only one to survive gestation. They were living under my shed.

It took me three weeks of string and bribes of food before he would let me get close enough to touch him. He continued to be wary of me for several more weeks. Once he accepted me, he started accepting other humans without too much effort.

I put a bell on him because he likes to ambush the other cats. He spent several hours trying to play with the bell on his new collar. The other cats seem happy about it, but I think Buddy has mixed feelings. His hallway charge is even better and louder now, but he's having trouble surprising the rest of us.


Sometimes I think about the Extra-Terrestrial Aliens who are watching me... with tracking tags and invisible ships...

They must be bored out of their minds.

Phone company economics

I recently moved. I was with one of those third party phone companies--"Emergent". I called the customer service number on my phone bill to have my phone moved.

I gave the woman my name and phone number so she could pull up my account. Before I could tell her what I wanted, she advised me that I owed them 34 dollars. I told her I just wanted my phone-line moved. She ignored my statement and suggested I could pay it with a credit card. I advised her I had reached the limit on my one credit card with moving expenses, but could pay in full at the end of the month. I eventually suggested I would go to another phone company if they didn't want to move my phone-line, so they agreed to put the $34 issue on hold.

It took more than a week to get my phone number moved. On the eighth day I called to complain that their "seven days" were past. Very soon after my phone started working at the new place, Emergent called back to tell me I owed them the $34 dollars. They said if I didn't pay immediately, they would shut off my phone. I advised them once again that my credit card was maxed out and I wouldn't get paid until the end of the month. I also suggested that if they were going to shut off my phone for $34 dollars, I would go to Qwest. They agreed to put the issue on hold until I called them on the 30th.

Oct. 30th was a Saturday, so I didn't get paid until the 1st. I assumed the phone company would wait until Monday when the banks were open. But Monday, when I got home from work, I attempted to call so I could pay my bill. I had the phone bill in my hand, but when I picked up the phone, I did NOT have a dial tone.

I then drove into town and called Qwest from the office. I had a new phone number within 20 minutes. I called Emergent and told them to cancel my account. Once again they reminded me that I owed them $34. When I told them I just wanted to cancel the account, they wanted to know why.

I said, "I tried to call you, to pay my bill in full, but you guys shut off my phone. I told you last week that I would go somewhere else if you shut it off."

Emergent person said, "Oh... I guess we did put a hold on that cancellation."

"Too late," I said.

I very recently got a bill from AT&T Long Distance. They are still charging me long distance coverage for the phone number I canceled in Oct. I don't understand how they could NOT know the phone number was canceled. They didn't seem to have any trouble getting my new address, but the new phone number seems to have escaped their notice.

I called AT&T customer service. The phone menus suck. I listened to menu options, waiting for the "speak to a live person" prompt. They don't have one. I picked the "other" option. At this point the computer asked for my phone number. I put in the old phone number, and the computer told me I had to pay the $21 if I wanted to receive customer service.

"What the f***?" I said to myself.

So... I had to lie to the computer (by telling it I had just sent a payment) before I was allowed to speak with a real person. I asked this person how they could charge me for long distance on a phone number I no longer possessed. She started to "explain" what had happened. It was Emergent's fault of course, because AT&T isn't responsible for knowing about their own customers--except how much they owe. When I told her I didn't care how it had happened, and could she just cancel my account please, she transferred me to hold.

Ten minutes later, I'm repeating my name and phone number for another person. He told me I owed them $21. I said all I wanted to do was cancel an account for a phone number I had canceled two months ago. He told me I was speaking to the Billing Department, and they didn't cancel accounts. He said I had to pay the bill or call the customer service number.

So he gave me the phone number for customer service. I then told him I had started with that same phone number, and that I was NOT pleased with his suggestion to end a phone call on which I had spend so much effort just to call the same number again. I was then politely transferred to a person who, once again, asked for my name and phone number and suggested that I should pay my bill.

I said, "Look. All I want is to cancel this account. Can YOU do that for me?"

Finally. More than 30 minutes later.

I don't understand these economic policies. I pay my bills on time; I have fairly good credit; but these two companies seem more concerned about 20-40 dollars than about providing service to the people who have been paying them for years.
by Darryl Branning

Parallel Travel

Buckle up!

One theory of parallel universes goes something like this:

Stories based on this idea are common, and since I sometimes find this irritating, I've decided to examine it more closely.

If a universe is created every time a major decision is made, then travel between these universes is pointless.

If you ask me, the whole idea collapses under it's own weight.

Work Zone

Never volunteer. Even if there's money involved.

Or at least make sure you can un-volunteer after a reasonable amount of time.

Do you think five years of mandatory overtime is too much? Not a lot of overtime... at least not on paper. The overtime they can't compensate you for is the burden of potentially instant work. Not a lot of work. A few minutes of overtime that will come at any time during [this] day or [this] week. Asleep or awake, answer the call of work.

Here is the peanut for answering the call. Here is the quarter-hour of overtime pay for doing the work. Do more than an hour, write a detailed report. Don't do it, then no more work at all. Be happy because we pay you.

I don't want any more overtime.


I'm starting to think it's time to find another job. Maybe even change careers. My present career comes with overtime--and computer techs are a dime a dozen these days. Cheaper in India too. I'm not sure experience counts for much in a profession which is changing more and more rapidly every day--at least not to the money people.

I like parts of the job. Helping another person understand and use computers effectively is very rewarding on a personal level. And an occasional emergency... I'm there. But wake me up three times in as many hours, every night for awhile, and I start to get a little cranky. I should hire someone to file suit for wrongful death when I have a heart attack right after the pager goes off.

I get to play with computers. That's a plus. Most of the tasks are diverting, some are tedious... and the waiting, that gets old.

River or Ring?

You may have heard of the Cassini-Huygens mission?

This has been an inspiration for many of my recent day-dreams.

As wild as this may seem (or not), my mind fills these rings with a sprawling urban expanse and cities large enough to swallow New York. This means sentient life of some sort... but more on that later....

We call them rings. Would we still call them 'rings' if we made our homes within this falling circle of ice rocks?

Please visit dzyjak.com, where there might possibly be newer posts. Changes happen.