The original version of this content appeared on the Aztec server in the Hodge’s Library, Systems Department, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the early 1990s. It was written to explain the name of Schnurmann to those on Lamda MOO. I had tired of giving the whole story and made a we page explaining it. Even the former high school classmate, Kevin Pelch, mentioned in the article found his name on the Internet and contacted me. This was long before the search engines were covered in irrelevant results. Yeah, back in the glory days.
Growing up, several people gave me various nicknames. Most of them were not kind, so they were not used passed that person. In 1983, we moved to Patch Barracks, Vaihingen, Germany. This meant attending the similarly named Patch American High School (yeah, the military can be so original). In 10th grade World History class, Kevin Pelch gave me the nickname Ropeman due to my pantomiming the video game he played nearly constantly in the bowling alley. The name stuck and some people called my Ropeman the rest of the year.
The school year 1984-85 dawned with me in 11th grade and Kevin no longer there. Few called me Ropeman, nearly solely my friend Bruce Platter. It looked as though the nickname would fade forever. Then German III my senior year happened.
Senior year arrived like any other. As I had for German I, Herr Dobner war meinen Lehrer. Then came the chapter with Spitznamen and we all choose one. Having actually liked the nickname Ropeman, I chose to translate it into German as Schnurmann, though that is technically “String man”. It stuck so well that I would turn homework in with the name instead of Bryon Lape. After graduating and moving back to the States though, the name was shelved for many years.
In the early 1990s, I was working at the Hodges Library when Ross Singer and Bob Patrick came across Lambda MOO. I applied for a character and named in Schnurmann with aliases such as Ropeman, Rope, and Schnur. As it was German, most mispronounced it and many asked me what it meant, so I eventually created a web page for it on the server with our personal pages.
I was Schnurmann again until one day Ann Langley called me Brainmuffin. This was her combination of how Southerns say Brian, the more common spelling of my first name Bryon, and Frank Zappa’s favorite word: muffin. This nickname stuck so instantly that I changed my MOO character’s name and co-workers would actually call me by it.
That was 20 years ago and I still use the nickname Brainmuffin. I use it on Twitter, MySpace, various forums, and Flickr. Over the years, a few impersonators have appeared, but there is only one Brainmuffin. I do thank Kevin and Ann for giving me good and lasting nicknames. I do hope I live up to them.
Today is June 28. On this day of June in 1914, 100 hundred years ago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip. This Serbian Nationalist touch off the powder keg in Europe that lead to World War I. Thanks very much Gavrilo. Millions died in the War to End All Wars and afterward, Serbia still wasn’t a loan country.
Every year, many remember these events. Sure it lead to the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but it also set the stage for World War II, where the number of dead staggers the imagination. Such a great loss of live and destruction of property.
In the year 1968 on this day, a happier event occurred. Here I, Bryon Lape, was born to Jim and Mary Lape. My father was in Viet Nam at the time and my mother lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was the first born and it was a joyous occasion. Today is 46 years since my birth and I do not feel so old.
Eleven years after my birth, another person was born on June 28. Unlike me, this person was female and has red hair. No worries. In 1979 was born a girl named Felicia Day. She would latter become a nerds great dream and she is beautiful, funny, and a gamer. Yes!
As for me, I’d rather celebrate me turning 46 and Felicia turning 36 than remembering someone getting killed 100 years ago. War never solves anything and leads to more war. I’d rather show and share love for one another. I’ve never met Felicia, but image she and I would share much in common. Sure, she and I would not agree on everything, but at least we could play World of Warcraft or some board game. Yes, I’ve seen every episode of The Guild, though I’ve tried to watch her other shows, they don’t speak to me so much.
So, Happy Birthday Felicia Day. Happy Birthday to me. And Happy Birthday to anyone else born on June 28, no matter the year. Stand up and be counted.
You work hard on your website. You hire good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts. You write good content and are careful to make it organic. You know content is king and you do your best to make it so. You are ranking high for your key terms and words. Things are great. Sales are coming in and good traffic finding your website. All is good with the world.
One day visits to your site drop a bit. The next day, the visits are done more. Sales start to drop. The content must be getting stale you surmise, so you make more. You go about making back links to your site from others that make sense. You do more SEO. Surely this will help, it doesn’t. Your page ranking goes from the top of the first to last on the twentieth. Soon you are on the hundredth page. What is going on?
Google’s Changing Algorithms
Google does its best to make searching work for the general user. There are many spam sites out there that generate machine readable content, but to the human they make no sense. This only serves the marketer, not the genuine business owner. Your site doesn’t have this content non-sense, but it still drops. Why is Google penalizing your site?
Let’s take a look at a few things.
That Darned 404 Page
Are there pages that have changed or gone out of use? Are there still some links out there that are no longer valid? Do some searching and update them. If they cannot be updated, provide a redirect. What about internal links? Are they all valid? No, get them updated and corrected. Google will mark your site when there are dead links.
How Good Is Your Content?
Do you copy and paste your content? Perhaps change a few words here and there? Not good. Make your pages unique. Repeated content will get a bad mark.
Where did you get your content? Is it yours? If it belongs to someone else, did you pay for it? Not only is copy and pasting within your site bad, copying it from somewhere else is bad as well. It is one thing to hire a copywriter. It is purely another to steal it.
Keywords are a great way to give more meaning and value to your pages, but be careful. Stuffing words into tags can get a mark against you. Keep the keywords relevant to your actual content. One guideline is to use 160 characters in your page description. Don’t get all blabbery and write a book there.
What Of Those External Links?
Back links are not necessarily bad, but follow two ideals. First, make sure the sites relate clearly to your site and the content. Don’t just start stuffing links everywhere, make them count. Second, are these other sites in the same language or in the same country as yours? Unless you are posting in German, don’t visit German sites and plant links. Stick to the related and familiar. Otherwise, Google may smack your efforts.
Don’t Get Cute
Some people will buy links and believe this will help their ranks. In the old days, yes. Perhaps even now it may work for a short time, but Google does not like the practice as it is seen as gaming the system. Don’t fall for the slick ads and keep away from buying links.
Page content is only a part of the solution. How your pages are constructed also matters. Just as keyword stuffing is not good, neither is using the H1 tag too liberally, lots of anchor text, or hiding content or links. With each new generation, Google’s algorithm is trying to read content more like a human that a machine. This means your structure is being reviewed and graded. Think hiding content full of great keywords will help? Wrong! Don’t get cute with the content nor the structure. Make the page good for humans and stay away from phoney keyword tricks.
The More Comments The Better, Correct?
Those who do not follow these guidelines will find your site and leave comments. These are spammers looking to push all manner of crappy products and sometimes they are pure scammers. Moderate your comments for these very occurrences and deny them. Have some there already? Mark these as spam and delete them. Sure, you do not control the comments people leave, but you can control whether or not these are published and seen by the search engines.
But, wait. Don’t I want the comments? Isn’t it great that people have found my site? Yes, it is nice they found you, but Google may hold their comments against you. Be the site moderator and let the comments help you, not harm.
Go Do It
There are other items too, such as sitemaps and slow loading times, but this is a good list to get started. Websites cannot just be built once and let be. Each week, there should be some updates to your site and they should be meaningful. Moderator your traffic and understand from where it comes. Put attention into those paths ways and look to find more link them. A little bit each week goes a long way to keeping your site ranked high. When your site drops, don’t panic and understand what is happening. Then take action to properly fix the bad marks and improve your rank.
Growing up, I was usually quite active. Not having a television for most of my childhood, mom pushed us outdoors when the weather was nice. No matter where we lived, it was quite the norm to be out all day and maybe get back in time for supper. This held while living in Seymour, Tennessee, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Ritchie, Maryland, and Patch Barracks, Vaihingen, Germany (nicht Vaihingen an der Enz).
I also played many different sports: Little League Baseball in Seymour, basketball and soccer at Fort Belvoir, just basketball in Maryland, and just soccer in Germany. During my junior year of high school, I took up running on my own, eventually running 3 miles a day in under 18 minutes. I used my Multiplan skills I developed while working in the Comptrollers Office to record my times and calculate my time per mile.
My freshman year of college was at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University). I went out and made the soccer team, this too had me running and staying in shape. As my father retired from the Army during this time and the family moved to Johnson, I stayed on campus when I went to the University of Tennessee. For a few years on, I continued to stay in shape by running.
In the summer of 1990 when I was 22, I changed my philosophy and goals. Being 6’5″ with a 31″ waist, I was quite skinny. Now I wanted to build some muscle. The Eubank’s Activity Center had a weight room and a few machines. I started to lift weights, eat more, and dug into magazines like Muscle and Fitness. By the time I married in July 1992, I was put to nearly 190 pounds from my start of 160 and had some strength. Shortly after getting married though, I stopped training.
After a couple of years of near inactivity and starting to have lower back issues, my wife and I joined Court South on Alcoa Highway. It was not only close to our house, it was on the way to my job at the University of Tennessee, Hodges Library, Systems Department. As I worked noon to 9 pm, I soon was taking my clothes with me, working out and showering, then heading to work. I would shave before I left home. I made a few gains in strength and size, but not much. For the most part, I kept my legs strong for ski season. Back then, my skis were 203 centimeters long and I was on Ski Patrol at Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This took some leg strength to patrol for hours on those sticks.
During the year of 1997, we moved to Marion, Ohio when I took a job with Macola Software. When I first moved up, I played on a recreational league soccer team. Here my nearly 30 year old body could not quite keep up with the teenagers who also played, but it was good fun. I played the next year too and in the meantime worked out at the YMCA. Here I was doing arm curls with 50 pound dumbbells and I first started reading Ironman Magazine. Now my routines were taking a serious note, but I also did stupid things and eventually hurt my knees. A few job changes later and a move to Cincinnati, and I rarely worked out anymore.
I was on ski patrol at Ober Gatlinburg for 5 seasons. In the summer of 2000, I took the Outdoor Emergency Care class again to get on patrol at Perfect North Slopes. Though I did not have to take the class again, it being 10 years since the class the first time, I thought it was a good idea. Over the next few years, I did occasionally worked out and joined the Y on Poole Road for a time. I believed I was in good shape. After all, I did ski every winter and was on patrol.
Then something unexpected happened and I knew I had to change.
I was about 42 years old when one year during the beginning of the ski season I was riding in the sled during training. We came down to the bottom and I went to get up and I couldn’t. I tried several times to basically do a crunch to get to a sitting position. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do a bloody crunch, no matter how much I used my feet to get leverage. Eventually, I rolled out of the sled onto all fours and stood up. That was it, something had to change.
We had a stationary bike in the basement and I started riding it again. Eventually an interesting routine developed: 10 minutes of riding, 5 minutes of arm curls and crunches. Rinse and repeat 4 times. I also started reading Ironman Magazine again and doing some of the routines in it. Set by set, the dumbbells that had been buried in the garage came back out and into use.
After nearly two years, I started to realize I was out growing what I could do in the house. Not have a bench or a rack, it became difficult to do more serious work. I looked at getting the Marcy utility bench (yes, the one with the gorgeous model on the box), but realized I didn’t have the space to put it. There are three gyms near me, so I went by them all. The closest was quite and small and the biggest one (Planet Fitness) was too against serious workouts, so I wasn’t going to join there. I decided to wait.
A bit over a year ago, I looked again. This time I decided to join Stay Fit 24, though it was small. After all, I’m in my forties and my joints don’t need weights too heavy. I got a small booklet to record my weights and I took routines straight out of Steve Holman’s articles from Ironman Magazine.
I made good progress and my body adjusted to workouts again. I had a simple goal then: strength my right knee and get better flexibility. I had the manager Adam help me remember how to do squats and deadlifts again. I started pushing 300 plus pounds on the inclined leg press. I switched routines around when the page filled with recordings. The ski season of 2013-2014 saw me with more leg strength than I had in years and the turns were some much easier. I also skied faster through the crud than I had before. My months of work in the gym paid off.
My diet changed over the months, adding proper carbohydrates and more protein. I dropped simple sugars as much as possible. Breads and pastas were also removed. Gluten became a bad word. My body slimmed and my strength increased. The results were visible when I had my yearly exam for medical insurance as my waist was one inch smaller.
My abs, however, lagging during all this, despite all the crunches. I took the November planking challenge on Facebook. After two weeks of that, my abs woke up and I’ve been planking ever since. Awesome.
I have two current goals: squat and bench my body weight, something I never reached even when I was younger and workout all the time. To achieve the former will require more core strength. To build that, I now do wheel roller ab work and deadlifts. Using the Multi-Year iPhone app, I recently switched to a strength regime by lowering the reps per set. About every two weeks I hit a new personal record on work sets. The most recent record is 145 pounds for 8 reps and 2 sets on deadlifts. A new record on squats is getting close. I’m nearly halfway to my goal on both bench press and squats, and I’m determined to get there.
Why do I keep pushing? Why do I research new supplements and what foods to eat? Why do I choose to not eat certain things or eat at particular times? It is quite simple. Any time I feel like having that second doughnut or napping instead of going to the gym or skipping too many days, I remember that time when I couldn’t get out of the sled. I remember how it felt to not be able to get off the ground. I remember how weak and helpless I felt. I remember and push forward.
Four years ago I started a journey I had put off for quite some time. A few months before Cataclysm shipped, I bought and downloaded World of Warcraft and rolled my first toon. I had played Warcraft II back in the day and had at least some familiarity with the story. As Brainmuffin is my main nickname, I called the Orc Hunter I rolled the same. I joined through an invite from a co-worker (my boss’s boss) and became a member of his guild.
It wasn’t long before my OCD fears took over and I played way, way too much. Not long after buying, I had reached the level cap of the Vanilla content that was still there and bought the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. I was at least committed to going that far, though I still wasn’t sure if I would continue into Cataclysm when it came out.
I downloaded various add-ons and used Zygor guides to level quicker. Along the way, I did various reputation challenges to get mounts and other items. When I was in Lich King content, I rolled some alts using other races to learn other parts of the game. An Undead Shadow Priest (Kleftogna) and Blood Elf Paladin (Zarania). Once I reached the required level on my main, I also rolled a Blood Elf Death Knight (Blutfleck). My obsession had moved into alt land.
In the beginning, things were great. Several other co-workers joined and rolled and we would run instances together. One by one, they dropped out and I had to run more PUGs. The guild was small, but it was nice and we played on Runetotem. One day, the co-worker who got me started on this journey quit over things Blizzard changed that he didn’t like. The last co-worker went back to running toons in her main guild. I was mostly on my own and played that way for many months.
Eventually, I switched from the guild “For the Horde” to “Cryptic Blessings” as I knew a player there. I was well into Catalcysm content and had level capped a few toons. They ran raids and I had time to do some. Soon came purple gear for my Hunter Brainmuffin and grinding for mats became easier.
Some people I knew returned before Mists of Pandaria came out. I moved a few toons back to “For the Horde”, but it wouldn’t last long and I’d soon be back in “Cryptic Blessings” full time. I went through the MoP content, did pet battles, leveled archeology, and was having fun leveling by various methods. Scenarios and LFR gave new experiences and loot.
Over the last few months though, it slowly became boring. I couldn’t make guild raid night and was on my own most of the time. I still did pet battles and archeology. As new content for MoP came out, I ran it. I leveled 5 toons to 90 by various methods and LFR-ed with each. I went a week without WOW and had some withdrawal symptoms. This was not good.
I also grew tired of the cost each month. Spending $70 every 6 months to play a game that was becoming a chore was no longer in the cards. By mid-May, I had made my decision and turned off auto resubscribe on my account with Blizzard. The morning of May 31st it became final. My paid time had run out.
It has been less than a week since I last logged into and played WOW. I must say I really don’t miss World of Warcraft that much. I’ve turned my attention to other pursuits, mostly getting back to filming beer reviews and other videos for my YouTube channel. I’ve also pulled up old photos and have started making adjustments in Lightroom. My daughter and I even finally did a small photo shoot in Harbin Park. I have much to learn when it comes to photographing people and I am looking forward to the journey.
Each passing day brings me further from World of Warcraft. When the new expansion drops later this year, I have no idea if I will buy it or not. I am quite tired of all the continuous grinding. Perhaps by then I’ll have a clearer purpose.