Monthly Archives April 2011

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NEPA Spring Blog Fest 2011

By M Davies   /     Apr 28, 2011  /     Events  /     0 Comment

I'm feeling particularly drained this evening, so I'll keep this blog post short. 

I just wanted to let you know about NEPA Blog Fest 2011 / Spring Edition which is happening tomorrow evening!  I'm very excited for it because I've been able to drum up some press for the event, as I had enough fair warning in advance of the gathering this time around.  Here are the details:

Blogfest set for April 29
By: Joe Valenti
Mark your calenders.

Area bloggers will be holding another blog fest Friday, April 29, 2010. This will be your chance to meet the face behind the keyboard. It will held again be at Rooney’s Irish Pub on 67 South Main Street in Pittston starting at 6:00PM. Stay as long as you’d like. Last time around Gort helped organize the shindig. Gort, however, has experienced a long case of writer’s block and hung up his keyboard.

Dave Yonki, of the LuLac Political Newsletter has offered to step up to the plate and lend a helping hand. Our past two events were well attended. Last spring we had probably over 150 come through the door and that was an off year election. This year we expect an even larger turnout considering the excitement with this year’s primary.

Gort always laid down the ground rules:
Admission is free, no speeches, you must buy your own drinks and you must wear clothes.

We have been listed on the WNEP PSBB, PAHomepage.Biz, The Weekender, The 570 and coming soon to a news stand near you: my interview with Happenings Magazine

I look forward to meeting you all tomorrow – or if I already know you, I look forward to hanging out once again!  Have a great night!

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Khrystos Voskres! Voistynu Voskres!

By M Davies   /     Apr 24, 2011  /     Family, Rusyn  /     3 Comments

And now a bit about my heritage. . .


The title of the blog post literally translates to “He has risen.  Indeed he has risen.”  This is a traditional greeting during the Easter/Christmas season for Ukranian/Russian Orthodox Catholics like myself.  I am a non-practicing one of … those.  My paternal grandfather was big into attending church and being a normal practicing catholic.  After my parents made the move from Wilkes-Barre to the Poconos, we didn’t go to church as much (if ever).  The fact of the matter is, there aren’t many church’s that are Ukrainian.  I can think of two – the one to which I attended CCD – which after doing a Google search is “SS Peter and Paul” on North River Street in W-Barre.  The one that my family “practiced” in was SS Peter and Paul in Plymouth.


I have been desperately trying to seek out more information about my paternal grandfather’s family since the early 2000’s.  I’ve hit numerous road blocks.  The biggest one being that none of his family spell their last name the same way.  Imagine my surprise to find out each of his siblings have taken on a different variation of the spelling.  My grandfather spelled it “Hryvnak”, his two brothers spell it “Hrevnack”, his eldest brother spelled it “Revnack”, and obviously his sisters took the name of their respective husbands.  By the way, the “Revnack” variation of it, would be how you’d actually pronounce it in real life.  The H is silent.  The Y takes on an “eh” sound, and nak.  Rev-nack. 


Now all that having been said, here’s where it REALLY gets tricky.  The graves of my great-grandparents have a completely different spelling of the last name.  I was able to trace them back as coming through Ellis Island, but before that I have no information.  My great-grandmother’s name is Maria Yurchak Hrywniak.  She came from Certizne, Czechoslovakia.  My great-grandfather’s name was Alec Hrywniak and was from Sonak, Austria.  “Hrywniak”.  Where did the W disappear to?  When/where did the V and I appear?


So again, I started searching like madman and find this page:

Specifically this:

Rusyns have typical Slavic first names like Michael (Michal or Michajlo), John (Jan or Ivan, nicknames Vaňo or Janko), Marija (Marja, Marka, Marička), Helen (Olena or Helena) and Anna (Hanna, Hanka, Haňa) or Anastasia. But several first names are peculiar to Rusyns (and extremely rare among Slovaks): for males, Vasil (Vasko), Dimitrij (Mitro), and Demjan (i.e., Damian); for females, Paraskeva (Paraska, Pajza, usually anglicized to Pearl), Hafia, and Tekla.

Rusyn surnames vary widely, many ending in “skyj”, but some other common endings are “čak”, “čik”, “jak” “ňak” or “nyak”, “ko” or especially “nko” and “sko”, “iin” and “ovič”.


My Grandfather and his siblings have some of the names of the above:  Girls:  Anna, Helen, Mary, Julie.  Boys:  John, Alec, Peter, Russell (was my grandfather).  I think that is all of them, but I may be missing some.


So great, I know I’m a Rusyn with several different spellings of last names, the names of my great-grandparents, and my grandfather’s siblings.  That doesn’t explain much to me.  I need more info.  God, I am nosey!


I found a person on Facebook with my same last name, a “Roman Hryvnak”, and I decided to add him to my friend list and message him about what he knows.  This is what I got:  “I’m not sure how much you know about your heritage, but there are few things that I can tell you for sure. Hryvnak (or Hrywniak for that matter) is somewhat popular last name in western Ukraine where I was born and lived for most of my life. It originated as a cossack’s nickname. It is hard to say if we are related since many people in Ukraine have that last name. I do know that on my grandfather’s side of the family someone moved to the states a while ago.”


Roman further sent me this picture:


The last name that is on that sign the most is Hryvnak written in Ukrainian :) I took this picture in a village where my family came from. It’s called Danyl’che (Ukraine).  This is a memorial sign where the men fought for their independence against the Russian and German forces in WW2.


So there you have it.  That’s what I know.  Which isn’t too much.  I keep this website up with my maiden last name as a tribute to my grandfather and his family’s struggles to come to America.  My hopes is that someone will be searching Google, looking for the same information that I am and come across my site and we can do an information exchange.  Any information anyone can provide would be of great value.


Have a blessed Easter everyone!  I dedicate this one to my Pop.

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Is it insomnia or insombnia?

By M Davies   /     Apr 23, 2011  /     Into the Void  /     2 Comments

In first grade I won a spelling bee.  Most days you wouldn't know it though.  I have trouble with the same few words over and over.  Insombnia?  No.  Insomnia.  It feels like there should be a B in there for some reason.  I also cannot spell caffenine to save my life.  I'm not quite sure if it should be apon or upon.  I should probably be embarrassed to admit that if a word doesn't appear to be correctly spelled, I will google it before I post an update….but I'm not.  I'm anal retentive like that.  Did that last sentence even make sense?  I don't know.  It's 3am and I can't sleep. 

(Now with embarrassing first grade picture of me!)

I've done a number to my body over the past few weeks, and I think it's finally catching up with me.  I had surgery on April 12th for an undisclosed woman related issue which I should still be recovering from — technically, I shouldn't be doing anything strenuous for 2 weeks after the surgery.  That brings me to April 26th. Well, there goes that thought.  I went rollerskating on Tuesday with my daughter and took a pretty bad spill on the rink floor.  We're talking face first – into the rink floor, I'm ok though.  Nothing is physically wrong with me, except for a few bruises.  Then on Wednesday, I decided to clean the field next to my house.  One of my neighbors (I suspect Drunken Redneck Volleyball), had a bag of trash rip open and blow all over the field.  They never cleaned it up, and I was sick of looking at it….so I cleaned it up myself.  It looks tons better, but now I am all scratched up from the picker bushes in the field.  I also stubbed my toe on Thursday morning.  Now I am coming down with a cold or sinus infection, or some kind of illness.  I lost my voice – which may be a relief to some people – and am coughing my brains out in my sleep (hence why I'm up at this godforsaken hour).  I get sick for Easter every year without fail.  Last year, I was seen in the ER for a raging kidney infection 2 days before Easter.  That was a fun time.  At any rate, my entire body is very sore and now I'm sick on top of it to boot. 

What have I been up to lately?  Eh, not much.

Ok, that's a blatant lie. 

I left my job at the major food manufacturer on April 1st.  And no, it wasn't an April Fools joke.  I resigned.  I left without having another job to go to on the basis that I would find something better, and even if I didn't find something right away – I would try to work part time, go back to school, or volunteer more until another opportunity presented itself.  I was laid off/unemployed two other times before by Big Red telco and Solid Cactus.  The weird thing about being unemployed this time around?  There are TONS of opportunities out there….at least for me.  I have been on probably 10-15 interviews since the beginning of the year.  I don't know if this is a sign that the economy is improving or that I'm just having extremely good luck. 

I registered a new domain name, which I have yet to populate with anything.  The domain is My hopes with this domain name are to create some how-to videos on various excel techniques I have learned throughout the years.

I've also been working to get NEPA Blogs social media presence more interactive.  I don't know how that is working out.  I hope good, but I get nervous that I may get annoying with all of the updates that I do. 

I have a bunch of charity work lined up for next week.  Hopefully, I'll be feeling better by then.  On Wednesday, I'll be reading to an active set of 2nd graders at Ross Elementary.  Thursday, I'll be chaperoning pre-schoolers at the Irem Shriner circus.  Friday, is Blog Fest (more on that in another post) and Sunday, I'll be volunteering at the Spencer Martin Memorial Bike Ride for Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity.  I can haz Top 40 under 40 nomination now plz?

I really forget where this blog post was supposed to be going.  I had an idea in mind for it initially, and it morphed into something else.  Ah well.  I think I'll try to lay down now and get comfortable. My feet are like icicles.  I wish you all a joyous Easter/Passover!

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