Category Archives: Random Musings

Ideas, comments, blurbings, etc that don’t go any where else.

Removing Can’t

In the English language, there are few words or phrases that are more destructive, more disruptive, more discouraging, nor more damaging than can’t. Matters not if it is used in its formal form of cannot, separated for emphases as can not, nor pronounced as if it spelled cain’t, the damage, the discouragement, the destruction is the same.

Parents will use the term believing they are teaching their children not to do something harmful. When physical or emotional harm is the known outcome, it is still encouraging to use another word. A child should not have to put their hands to a put stove to know it is hot and will burn them, but the common usage of can’t is too tempting to bleed over into other uses whose damage will not be seen for years.

Each person is born with a unique set of talents and gifts. Often parents are not sure what to do with their child when they are different. Unknowingly, a parent may tell a child they cannot do something out of fear or jealousy. Suppose they have a child who is adapt at piano when they never were. The parent might tell the child “You can’t spend the time to learn well enough.” The parent is making a judgement about their child and placing the seeds of doubt within them. Instead, the parent should empower the child to make a better decision whether to pursue and for how long: “I believe you can play well. Let’s set some learning goals and a practice schedule to get there.” Sure, these first goals may be as simple as learning the C scale in both directions with proper finger placement, but it shows the child how the path will look.

Parents are not the only ones who disarm with can’t. Often a person themselves will sabotage their own success by looking at a new endeavor and saying “I could never do that,” or worse “I can’t do that.” How do you know till you fully try? Don’t assume you cannot and then give a half-hearted effort to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, believe that perhaps you can do it. Create a plan, even it is just a mental one, and give 110% to the attempt. Decide and take massive action.

Inside each and every person ever born or will be born has an unique blend of talents and gifts that the World needs to better itself. How those gifts are used is the choice of that person and no one else. Whether or not those gifts and talents are used is also a choice of that same person, no matter what negative “can’t” words have been used by others toward them. Every great leap forward, every great progressive step, every breakthrough, every incredible discovery was created by someone who refused to accept the limits imposed of them by others. Create your can. Drop the can’t.

You Have Value

I truly believe that every person ever born, in no matter what era or location, has a purpose, worth, and value. Sadly, very few realize their worth and potential, while some choose to use their talents for evil. Some have natural talents for leadership. Ghandi used his to overthrow British rule through non-violent protest. Napoleon, Alexander, and Hitler used theirs to conquer and terrorize the world of their day.

Various philosophies and religions have teachings about the value of people. Often they relate the worth with the soul. So have lessened the value by concentrating only on “winning” the soul to their Savior or path to enlightenment. Souls that do not choose to follow this path are lost and some believe they have no value. They are incorrect. Any soul contained in the body of anyone has value. Man is not created without worth.

Other views regard this existence as merely consciousness having an experience. This view is just another part of the puzzle of reality, not the end all construct. The conscience (soul) of each person does use the body as a vehicle to experience life, learn and acquire knowledge, and leave its influence on the Universe. Whether one believes in the cycling of consciousness through multiple lives or the single passing of one life, each Person has value. They have a mix of talents and will not seen before, nor will it be seen afterward. Each Person. Each Soul. Each Life is unique and worthy of being treated with the Respect and Love shown a priceless object.

Sadly, many who do not see their own worth wish to strangle and deny worth to others. They are small people and they will use all manner of destructive means to harm the Soul of others. They will tell children they have no value. They will throw children away do to inconvenience. They will neglect those for whom they are charged to grow and nurture. Sometimes the abuse is subtle, other times the scars are visible. Whether intellectual, emotional, physical, or mental, the results of abuse are the same: the target Person feels and believes they have no Value, no Worth, no Future, no Purpose.  False.

It is the responsibility of the Individual to understand their gifts, use them to discovery their Purpose, their Why, and choose to use the Knowledge for the betterment of the Universe. Love flowing from Purpose and Worth creates the most beautiful of futures for everyone. It is only through such use, such exploration, that the Eternal Hope can be realized. As put in 1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now remain these three: Faith, Hope, and Love. The Greatest of these is Love.

It is through Love that Jesus walked upon the Earth. It is Love he showed to all who sought, rebuking only the religious who had defained the House of God and His message. He summed all of the Law in “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and strength, and Love your neighbor has yourself.” This tenant requires one to first have Love for themselves in order to Love others in the same way. It requires one realizes they have Value so they may help others to find theirs. It requires Love to flow from an unquenchable source. One cannot claim to have Value at the expense of others. One’s Value flows outward in Love and Creation, not Hate and Destruction.

Every Creation has Worth, Value, and Purpose. Every Soul has a Choice. Choose wisely.

 

Opening To The Universe

A few weeks ago I had a call with my good friend Peter Hobler. Since meeting him via Carbon Copy Pro, Peter has become a motivational speaker and personal development coach. I was in need of a nudge or two, and Peter knows me well enough to be helpful and blunt. The kind of advice to which I react best.

I had been in a fog for some time and needed some help. I’ve felt like something big  was just about to break through the haze, but I had no idea what it is. The fear that kept it away told me just how big it is. I write is, because it isn’t totally here yet, though parts are starting to be revealed and it is truly exciting.

Peter suggested I do a simple exercise. On one sheet of paper, write down everything I don’t want anymore. All the negative things in my life: debit, being angry, pessimism, confusion. The idea is to put everything down and not to hold anything back. Once complete, get another clean sheet of paper and write down everything I do want: financial freedom, success for my children, meaningfulness from life, satisfaction with my work. To help remove the negative items from your mind, a good idea is to burn the list. The action is quite cathartic. Release all the negative energy into Universe, not to return.

My negative list felt too short, so instead of burning what may have been a complete list, I did something different for the positive. I put into the Ether to be shown what to release. I’ve been listening to the companion CDs for the Working With the Law by Raymond Holliwell. The idea of getting from Life and the Universe what you desire requires the same energy to be put in. One Law is the Law of Attraction, one of the strongest and well known law. What one puts out, one will get in return. I want to know every source of negative energy so that I may release and stop creating it. Each day a new one arises. As I am sensitive to the response, each one opens my eyes. Each one is a new opportunity to grow and know more of who I really am.

The last few weeks have been a truly incredible time and each day brings more enlightenment. I don’t know where it is all going, nor do I know where it will end. Discovering each day where I need to grow and what I need to release is both exciting and terrifying. All of it is necessary to reach the success I desire. The success my family deserves. The success that is required for me to have the most positive impact on the World and leave my mark of Love.

Brainmuffin: The Renaissance (Polymath) Nerd

NERD
NERD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Europe had several periods of Renaissance starting in the 12th century. It is the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century with which many are familiar. During the later period, a person who had expertise in several areas of study was called a Polymath. The common term that later came to use was Renaissance Man.

Computer Nerd

Over the years my areas of study and interest has been varied. In high school, as I was too shy to ask girls out, computers became my first interest. Though we didn’t own one, I knew several people who did and my school in Maryland (Smithsburg High School) had an Apple ][, while my high school in Germany (Patch American High School) had Atari 800s. Friends had these as well as Vic 20 and Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Through all these varied machines, I learned aspects of BASIC. I also learned a bit of PILOT and LOGO. Thousands of lines of code were written on paper and never typed in. I made my own adventure games and even a few graphics ones. Mid-way through my senior year I finally got over my nerves and asked a girl out on a date. Thus a second subject of study entered my life.

My major in college was Computer Science. One does not get much more nerd than that, do they? College  focused and channeled my analyzing skills and matured my coding practice. My interest in Math also expanded and it nearly became a minor. Learning from where various formulas that I had learned over the years derived open a new world. Math explained so much about the underpinnings of the Universe. Women remained unsolved, even after I met my wife.

My Own Beer

In the early 90s I took a job at the University of Tennessee in the Library Systems department. Though I went there to offer my skills for their various development needs, my world would soon expand into the area of homebrew beer. The first few batches were nothing to write home about, but with more practice and research, I was soon being asked questions by those who got me started. When I moved to Marion, Ohio to work for Macola Software, there too I had homebrewers who had been at it for years asking me how I did things. True, I was still using extract, but the recipes were mine and showed my talents for cooking. Over the years my expertise would expand to amateur judging and all grain. I even had Charlie Papazian answer tweets and get me started as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. If you want to while away some time talking about beer, I’m all ears (and mouth).

Lift Them Weights

I was first introduced to lifting iron in 7th grade gym class. I wouldn’t get another fix for a couple more years when my dad brought a used weight set home. In 1983, the move to Germany meant they went to storage and I lifted very little. I would not start lifting seriously again until the summer of 1990.

The second foray into weight lifting slowly grew into an obsession. The first catalyst was purchasing a copy of Muscle and Fitness. Though I had little variety in equipment, the magazine had ideas I could adapt and meals gave me ideas on what to eat. Eventually, I was eating a great deal more and taking the occasional weight gainer. Weider’s magazine had information on many areas and I was an adept student.

My first gym membership came in 1994. Here I had access to lots of free weights and great machines. Over the next few years I would gain 20 pounds, mostly muscle. I hovered in the mid-190s in weight for years, but I never did get to body weight on bench press, squat and dead lift. Most of the routines I was doing were of the higher, lighter weight variety.

Time passed and we moved a few times more. Gym memberships came and went, though I did buy 200 pounds of dumbbells along the way. For much of that time, I thought there not much left to learn about weight lifting. About two years ago, I again starting reading Iron Man Magazine. The writers had changed since my last subscription and many of them were in their 40s and 50s. As joints were no longer up to heavy lifting, the routines reflected a switch to higher volume with less rest. Starting what I could at home, I rebuilt muscle and drop some weight. A membership at a new gym was soon added and my journey from 200 to 217 began.

Over the course of this year, my knowledge expanded into the area of StrongLift’s 5×5. After some prodding my a co-worker, I finally gave it a try. As I was used to lighter weights, I started low. Eventually though, I would hit body weight on dead lift, with squats closed behind. As for bench, my left shoulder needs more strengthening before that will happen. 135 pounds offers a very good workout at 5 reps and 3 sets.

Nutrition has also expanded in knowledge and I’ve dropped my body fat from 28% to 20%. The struggle becomes tougher here though and the goal is 15%. I’m collecting all the knowledge I can to get lower without sacrificing the muscle I’ve gained.

And women?

I have learned much there too and what I know I cannot share. Their quirks no longer frustrate and I’ve turned it into entertainment. Motivating people is still difficult.

Long way nerd

The journey over over 30 years has taken this nerd a long way. Yeah, I’m still dorky and those who know me don’t hesitate to remind me. I can still talk your ear off, especially about computers, programming, beer, fitness, nutrition, cars, the weather, the law of cosines, the beauty in Calculus…..

 

Brainmuffin’s View Of Matsuricon 2014

Keleigh as Madeline Hatter
Keleigh as Madeline Hatter (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

It is Saturday evening of my first Matsuricon here in Columbus. The evening of Friday was spent walking about the convention floors, but not having a pass to anything. The young age of the crowd surprised me and despite my daughter’s encouragement to take pictures of other people, I felt too creepy to take many. During lunch on Saturday I decided I had to get a pass.

The line for passes midway through the second day was far longer than I would expect. Perhaps people came and then decided later to sign up, I’m not sure. On Friday evening, they closed registration down a bit early and many of those who pre-registered did not get their passes and could not attend Friday evening’s festivities.  The organization for passes seems to need some work.

Once the line was down to a manageable length, I queued, filled out the form and then had sticker shock. Here it is 1:30 on Saturday and thinking the 3-day pass at the door was $40, I was surprised that just Saturday was that price. Oh well, at least I can go to a few panels today.

Attending some panels was good experiments. Now with a pass, I felt less like “creepy old dude” while walking about. Still shy to ask for many photos, I did get a few. The newly purchased PNY 32GB SDHC cards however, continued to give fits. Friday night they kept messing up and only a scant few minutes of video was shot. Practice time with the Glidecam XR-2000 was also too limited and the video was not the best anyway.

I’m sure I’ve walked miles today. Waiting for the elevators takes too long. Good thing we are only on the eighth floor, so walking up the steps is not a bad option. No need for cardio this weekend.

Overall, the experience was not bad. It is definitely not the place to just walk about taking pictures. More than once someone told me that Ohayocon is better. There are so many kids here running around. Doing Cosplay seems to be a mid-twenties thing and down. If I come next year though, I’ll be rocking some old school Cosplay. Which character to dress as?

Where Is The Love, Ferguson?

Each day, more information about the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri comes to light. The initial narrative of a gentle giant has now been shown to be false. The two young men were walking in the street and this is what lead the policeman to stop. The two started an altercation which eventually lead to the death of one of them and a policeman’s whose heart breaks.

Throughout all this, the various community agitators keep the Hate speech going. Each night the rioting destroys property and it is quite a miracle that dozens are not killed every night. The rioting causes the police to become more and more militarized. The violence of the riot produces violence from the police which produces more violence from the fear controlled crowd.

The cycle becomes self-feeding. The circuit complete is not broken.

Only one thing can end this cycle of violence feeding violence: Love. After the riots in Los Angeles, Rodney King asked the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” He was dismayed by the riots and his sadness lead him to the question. Many impugned him for his comments and it became a joke. Rodney was right. Getting along means at least having respect for one another. True community builds on getting along to loving your neighbor.

An early hit for the group The Black Eyed Peas was Where Is the Love? Its message was powerful and correct enough that it even found playtime on Christian Radio Stations. The song asks what is wrong with the World filled with hate and wonders where the Love is. There should be Love in the World. Love for Everyone. The secret is Hate is being played into the World to keep Everyone warring with each other instead of Loving.

The same continues to be missing from Ferguson. Instead of really wanting Justice, those who profit from the agitation preach Vengeance. This brings more violence, not Love. Should the policemen be charged? Perhaps. After all, the British soldiers who killed Americans in Boston in 1770 were put on trial, though the crowd wanted Vengeance. Interestingly, they were defended by future second President John Adams. This is Justice.

The questions remain. Why can’t we get along? Why do some feel they are allowed to take from others because the are bigger or stronger? Why do some feel they must destroy in order to be heard? Where is the Love, Ferguson? Where is the Love?

Love For Ferguson, Missouri

A few days ago, I posted this on Facebook, Twitter, and here in my quotes section:

When your protest uses violence, you will prosper the very tyranny you claim to fight.

What we see in Ferguson, Missouri shows this exact point. People are angry and riot. This is not the first time this has happened in the US. Local police forces see this and worry it will happen in their towns, so they collect more and more military style equipment and tactics. This concerns many citizens and the loop becomes a vicious cycle. Love and Peace should be our first recourse, not violence. The former can overthrow tyrants, the latter will be used by tyrants to increase their grip. True and lasting change is created one person at a time and spread through Love.

Instead of turning to hate, live with Love. Seek the path of Forgiveness in all things. Despise not your Enemies. Love them and stand on Principles. Hearts are Converted with Love, not hate.

The Be Of Schnur

Pensive
Pensive (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

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.

Archduke Who? The Day Of June 28

Felicia Day
Felicia Day (Photo credit: -seek-)

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.

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Life After World Of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Cosplay Girls
World of Warcraft Cosplay Girls (Photo credit: swanky)

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.

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