Saturday, January 31, 2009

new blog

just a heads up to let y'all know that i've started another blog. it chronicles my low carb lifestyle.

i'd love it if you'd check it out:



i'll still be posting here, so stay tuned.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

how far have we come?

more than thirty years ago, the summer before i graduated from high school, i served as a youth representative to my church denomination's state assembly. it took place at the penn state (johnstown) campus. it would have been mostly memorable for the time i spent on the handball courts and at the pong machine but for one notable exception: the rev. martin luther king, sr. was the keynote speaker.

i don't remember much about rev. king, but i do have a few clear memories: i shook his hand and thanked him for being there. he smiled and sincerely thanked me for having him (as if a mere teenager wielded that sort of power or influence). he struck me as a quietly proud, dignified gentleman, not unlike my grandfather.

i was old enough to be keenly aware of the impact rev. king and his family had on the civil rights movement; i had vivid memories of martin luther king, jr.'s assassination. i knew rev. king had to be an extraordinary man to influence and inspire his son. i was amazed that he could speak to us about him (among other things) so recently after his wife's tragic murder. the pain and grief had to be immense.

today, as barack obama becomes the 44th president of the united states, i am thinking about rev. king and the personal sacrifices he (and so many others) made so that we could reach a point in our history where a man -- finally -- wasn't judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. when i see racists, pessimists, neocons (who are mostly racists and pessimists in denial), historical revisionists, et al. trying to cast a pall over this remarkable achievement, i am saddened and troubled.

as we bask in this shining moment in our nation's history, let's take time to consider the road that has taken us this far -- and acknowledge that we still have quite a distance to go.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

hello family, friends, and assorted ne'er-do-wells. i realize i have some catching up to do so off we go...

re: nanowrimo -- epic fail. i got sick, thought i could catch up, started dealing with several family health issues, still thought i could catch up, then had a death in the family (second one in a little more than a month). i threw my hands up and accepted defeat. although i didn't reach the nanowrimo finish line i've pretty much convinced myself that i can get something done given the time and effort. i've done long pieces before, but over much extended periods of time. i kind of like the fast, concentrated pace and have every intention of doing it again soon. i'll keep you posted.

this is the third year i'll be taking a holiday break. it begins this evening. since my work life revolves around the 'net and computer stuff, my self-imposed exile mostly consists of me turning off the computer and leaving it off for about three weeks while i do fun things like sleep and catch up on my reading. i also intend to do more painting and make a few more trips to the casino.

yeah, i know how to live it up.

anyway, i may be using my laptop to occasionally check twitter, and perhaps facebook and this blog. i'm still undecided on it. definitely no email or web surfing, though.

if i don't type at you before then, i hope you and yours have a very merry christmas and a terrific new year.

pax out.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

and...they're off

nanowrimo begins officially at midnight tonight. i'm psyched. and a little scared. the thought of writing 1700 words per day for 30 days straight makes me a little nauseous. i'm sure i'll be fine. i hope. (someone please pass the brioschi. thanks.)

i've decided to toss my previous idea and simply write, sort of stream of consciousness...but then again, maybe not. i've got a title and the first few sentences in mind and nothing beyond that. i want to see where it takes me. perhaps nowhere -- but the joy's in the journey, right?

i plan to write in the mornings, before the distractions of the day (such as watercolors and oils classes -- and work) interrupt me. i figure i'll be writing approximately a chapter every two days. it's exciting albeit daunting.

look for my first entry tomorrow sometime and feel free to post your thoughts. i'd love to have your feedback.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008


my friend, the lovely lisa reid, and i have signed up for national novel writers month (nanowrimo). it begins november 1. in a mad thirty day rush, participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. the theory is that if you have a deadline, you can get it done. in nanowrimo's eyes it's all about quantity rather than quality. write, write, write. just get it on paper (it's actually more like, "get it into your word processor," but i digress). other writers hold you accountable, cheer you on, offer advice, etc. sounds like fun. it also sounds a little insane...which is why i absolutely have to do it.

i'm no math genius (which you already know if you read my proposal to fix the economy), but i figure we'll have to write a minimum of approximately 1700 words per day to finish. (why didn't nanowrimo select a month with 31 days? i'm sure i'm gonna need that extra day!)

i hope to post what i've written to this blog daily. i've decided to write a story based on a rather tongue in cheek post i made on my myspace blog. it's a silly quip i had about a storyline for a western novel or screenplay. i know how the story begins and ends. all i have to do is write the middle part, right? check it out:

* if i ever write a western novel or screenplay, it will begin thusly:

prairie pete stretched and yawned as the brilliant arizona sunrise roused him from his hearty, well-earned slumber. he’d only been on the trail for two days but he was already hot on the trail of the thieving scoundrels who’d stolen his prized golden spitoon. "they are going to pay dearly for their pilfering," pete muttered to no one within earshot -- no one, that is, except his beloved horse, needles.

spoiler alert!! ;) and here's how it ends:

* if i ever write a western novel or screenplay, it will end thusly:

justice had been served. parson pete (the wrangler and reformed ne’er-do-well formerly known as prairie pete), golden spitoon tucked neatly in his saddlebag, had risen to the formidable challenge and single-handedly defeated the scofflaws. and while the sun silently set over the arizona desert, pete happily chawed and spat and prayed, while into the living rock he carved the names of the dead men.

only 49,866 words to go. i'm gonna need a really big pot of coffee...

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

want/not want

i've begun a new feature here at ye olde blog called "want/not want." occasionally i'll post an item and you can comment and let us know if you'd want it or not. first up:

Beatles Collector's Box Includes Limited Edition 120GB iPod Classic

want/not want?

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Monday, October 13, 2008

the top ten reasons why webchyk loves columbus day

10) pasta for breakfast, lunch, and supper!

9) parades with grown men who don't care how ridiculous they look dressed like christopher columbus -- tights and all.

8) for one day only i don't have to worry about anyone giving me the evil eye.

7) the moment of silence in memory of topo gigio, the italian mouse from the ed sullivan show.

6) i get to answer my phone like they do in italy by saying, "pronto."

5) hear stories about the old country from people who've never been there.

4) don ameche film festival, right in my living room!

3) i get to say things like, "come si dice cio in inglese?" and "parli piu forte" and "favorisca di darmi del pane e del formaggio."

2) nobody tells me how bad my Italian really is.

1) everybody's italian for a day!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008


we're very much experiencing indian summer here. i don't mind so much because i love autumn weather best, and it's an indication that fall's here.

i had to drive up to state college on friday for a meeting. road construction was awful and it added an extra 45 minutes to the usual 2.75 hour drive. i didn't want to be late for my meeting so i didn't stop to take any pix. the scenery was gorgeous. i'm hoping to head up next week just to catch the autumn leaves at their peak. i'll post pix here and at my flickr account.

saturday was another beautiful day and i'd already planned a visit to fallingwater...seems that everyone else did, too! the place was packed so i left without bothering to walk the grounds or anything. ohiopyle was crazy...couldn't find a parking space. i'll make one last nice weather visit to both places next week (but i am hoping the weather stays nice for many more visits).

on the way to and from ohiopyle and fallingwater, you pass all sorts of neat places. one is christ chapel of st. paul's evangelical lutheran church (top right). i'd forgotten my tripod so i couldn't do an hdr of it, so that's on my list for next week. another great place to visit is kentuck knob (left). i took a quick shot of some of the trees -- this was one of the few areas where there weren't any people milling about.

i drove down the mountain and decided i wanted to take some more pix. i went home and grabbed my tripod and headed to brownsville, pa (about 5 minutes from my house), where the river takes a couple of interesting bends. i was crossing the lower bridge when i noticed some barges in the river (right). the sun was almost directly in the camera and since i was in traffic i couldn't adjust the settings, so i set it to automatic and hoped for the best.

last but not least, this is a 3 exposure hdr of the river at fredericktown, pa (left). i'm going to do a few variations on it and perhaps go back and do a 5 exposure. i find hdr imaging fascinating! digital photography makes it very easy since my nikon d80 is more than up for the task. (if you're wondering, i use photomatix software for the tone mapping and exposure blending...and i still have a lot to learn!)

btw, make sure you click on the photos. they'll open much larger in a new window so you can take a good look.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

tag, not meta

my sweet friend, the lovely lisa reid, has tagged me (make sure you subscribe to her blog, put it on the list). lisa's celebrating her one year blogivesary. congrats, girlfriend! anyway, i guess this makes me the "it" girl. har. i'm supposed to tell you six things that no one knows about me and tag six other people so they can tell you about themselves, and so on and so forth. if you decide to play along, please comment so other folks will know to read your blog (i've included the links 'cause you're all so great i want folks to check out your blogs regardless of whether you play or not).

and...we're off...

1. i drove a tow truck once. yes, there was a car attached to it. no, it wasn't mine (neither the car nor the truck). i managed to safely reach my destination.

2. in the early '80s i volunteered for our local ambulance service as an ambulance driver. i'm not into first aid at all, but i do like flashing lights, sirens, and driving really, really fast -- especially the driving really, really fast part.

3. i worry, therefore, i am.

4. most kids have dogs, cats, or other domesticated animals for pets. i had a raccoon. i hand raised him from a baby (bottle feedings, the whole nine yards) and eventually released him.

5. my dream home is an early, authentic craftsman.

6. if i'm going to be late to an event, i'd rather not go at all.

now, for my six tags:

  • mindless ramblings and trivial things: c'mon girl. you need to blog more. you know you wanna.
  • twdq: not entirely on topic for dave's blog, but he's so awesome that i want to know more about him.
  • raw faith...real world: linda b! you just know she's cool by her rapperesque name.
  • bernieville: i'm pretty sure bernie's reading this. shout out to bernie! now, get to blogging!!
  • the note head: i've known chris since we were kids. tell us more about yourself, chris! :)

i'm gonna cheat a little here...we did this on our myspace blogs awhile back. i've included one extra link. if any of y'all want to post new lists, please do so. i'll just link to your current myspace blogs:

  • thought bubble: laura makes me laugh and cry -- sometimes at the same time. brilliant, witty, and introspective without losing perspective. great stuff.
  • carolyn arends: she's cool, even with her veggie aversion! this link will take you to carolyn's wrestling with angels blog, where she parks her various columns.

ok, more bloggy goodness soon. ciao!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

dunkin' donuts: no longer delish

like any good geek, i loves me a good cup pot of coffee (always decaf, though -- my motor runs best on unleaded). as documented on my old myspace blog a few years back, i have a "thing" for dunkin' donuts coffee (that's a rachael ray poster to the right, adorning my local dd earlier this spring). imagine my cautious optimism when my dd closed for remodeling a few months over the summer. it was like a season-ending cliffhanger: would the coffee still be as good? would all my favorite counter girls return? would i finally get to see what an egg white flatbread looked like?

well, i'm hear to tell ya that my new local dd has sunk into the fast food corporate mire. gone are the days when i could drive up to the window, look the dd worker in the eye, order my coffee, and have them whip it up in front of me on the spot. now, i have to order in the back of the building into one of those annoying speakers, drive around, pay one girl while another unseen person (hiding somewhere inside the bowels of the newly remodeled store as to avoid the customers' wrath, obviously) makes my coffee. sure, it tastes the same (albeit suspiciously assembly line-like), but all the ambience is gone. the interior of the store is worse. don't ask.

then there's the price. i truly didn't expect the price of coffee to stay the same given the extensive overhaul of the store, but get this: i used to order one large and one medium decaf iced coffee (one for now, one for later or tomorrow) and paid what i thought was a reasonable $3.28. it's mostly water, for crying out loud. the new price? a whopping $4.56. yikes. an increase of fifty or even seventy-five cents i could've understood, but $1.28? no way!

drastic times call for drastic measures.

i've experimented with iced coffee recipes in the past and now, in my hour of need, i've finally concocted a recipe that is every bit as good as dd's decaffed iced...and best of all, it's ridiculously cheap in comparison! here's the 411:

webchyk's dd iced coffee recipe (makes 1 very large drink or two smaller ones)

  • two level tablespoons and one teaspoon of folger's instant decaf coffee (you may substitute 4 maxwell house's decaf coffee singles -- simply steep them in the hot water for several minutes. i like the folger's 'cause it's faster. as you will see, this isn't as much coffee as you might think: the instant and singles individual coffee measurement of one teaspoon/bag is for six ounces of water, not eight. i'm using standard eight ounce measurements. and of course you may adjust the amount of coffee for your taste. i find these amounts closest to what my local dd's iced coffee tastes like. if you don't wanna use decaf, try regular and let us know what it's like. thanks!)
  • 1.5 cups hot water (i have a 1200 watt microwave -- i nuke the water for 1 minute and it's perfect. you don't want it too hot, just hot enough to dissolve/steep the coffee.)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • ice (i use about a dozen cubes)
  • splenda, sugar, cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spices, whatever you'd like to add to your iced coffee...or not.
  • a very large plastic -- not glass -- glass (check your dollar store. they usually have four 32 ounce plastic coca-cola go glasses for $1. perfect if you want to take your coffee with you because you can simply throw away the cup and it'll still be cheaper than dd.)
place your instant coffee (and sweetener, if you're using it) into your glass. add the hot water and stir. add the cold water and stir. and cream and other coffee accoutrements if you're using them, and stir. add ice. stir some more and then let the ice melt for a few minutes. this will not only chill your coffee but further dilute it to its perfect yummo goodnees. enjoy!

if you really wanna have fun: add eveything except the ice cubes to a blender. whip it a bit. add about six ice cubes. blend well. pour over more ice.

if you try it, post here and let me know what you think.

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