Thursday, September 9, 2021

As Requested . . . A Look Inside My Most Recent Blog Book (September 9, 2021)


Following the most recent post about my blog-to-book efforts, Nancy, one of the long-time readers of this blog, commented that she was considering making books of her genealogy blog ( My Ancestors and Me).  She asked if I could show more of the inside of the book.  I am more than happy to do so and additional photos with explanations are presented here.

The headline photo above is of the so-called "Great Photo Wall" that appears to be a feature of IntoRealPages books and cannot be changed so far as I know.  The Wall is created by taking thumbnail photos of the pictures that accompany posts within the book and making a collage of them at the beginning of the book. 

There are basically two different ways to organize a blog-to-book using IntoRealPages.  For comparison purposes, interested readers should please open the blog post of December 20, 2020 here in order to see the important differences in the two organizational options.

In the book featured in the December 2020 post above, I used what is called a "Chapter Index" organizational format.  In this format each individual blog post is considered a "chapter" in the book.  As a result (and as illustrated in the referenced prior post), a "chapter page" is inserted before each and every blog post.  The chapter page merely repeats the title of the adjacent blog post itself and so it is not only redundant, it adds unnecessary pages to the book and thus to the cost of each book because cost is ultimately determined by the page count. 

The definite benefit of the Chapter Index format is that it produces a very nice, user-friendly index that provides the title of each individual post and the page number on which it begins (see the photo at the December 2020 post above).

While I believe the IntoRealPages blog-to-book is a quality hardback book that should last generations if treated with a modicum of care, the truth must be told that the books are NOT inexpensive.  But, if the time and effort that goes into creating such books for our posterity is added to the cost and then "amortized" over the time and generations that will be able to benefit from them, they really work out to be a reasonable cost.  Even so,  there is still no reason to add to the cost where it is not really required.  For that reason, I switched in the three latest volumes and produced them with what is called the "Month Index" format.  A picture of that style index is illustrated in the post of August 28, 2021 here.

The Month Index format organizes the blog posts in chronological order within each calendar year included in the book.  A calendar year page is inserted into the book in the same way as the Chapter Index, but only where necessary to distinguish blog posts in one specified year from posts in a subsequent year.  This means, of course, that there will be far fewer indexed pages inserted in the book and thus the cost of each book will be less. 

I will freely admit that the Chapter Index format is much more user friendly for the reader than the Month Index format.  However, after pondering the matter I decided that I preferred to go with cost savings now as opposed to user friendliness for descendants in the future.  

Why did I do this?  

I did this because I realized that far into the future of these books the reader would not be likely to search for specific blog posts using the Chapter Index unless and until he or she had become somewhat familiar with the titles and content of book and any particular blog post he or she had found interesting or important.  Someone opening a book with the Chapter Index for the first time in say 50 years would perhaps get some vague idea of what a post is about from the title, but for many they would not.  I think they will be more likely to just skim or browse through this "genealogy book one of their ancestors or relatives produced"--sort of like looking through an unindexed catalog of today.  IF such readers find things of interest or import to themselves, then they will dog-ear, bookmark, or otherwise create a way to easily locate the post(s) again. The same will be true of a book using the Month Index format and their browsing can be done in sections by year and then chronologically within the year.  The difference for today is that the cost of producing the book is lower by eliminating a redundant chapter page before each and every blog post in the book.

One last note about the overall book organizational format.  It is possible to do a book in a third "format" that I somehow did with one volume by mistake.  Volume 4 is the thinnest (and therefore least expensive) of the four IntoRealPages books I have produced.  In that first volume after the Chapter Index book, I attempted to eliminate the insertion of redundant chapter pages for every blog post.  I was successful in doing that, but I also inadvertently eliminated the user friendly index and thus the book became nothing but an unindexed chronological collection of the blog posts put into that volume.  The photo below illustrates how three blog posts appeared in that volume without any chapter insert and throughout the book neither was there any calendar year pages to indicate the beginning of a new year of posts.

Finally, I need to point out that the IntoRealPages blog-to-book is printed in what I believe is an unalterable three-column format.  The photos or other inserts in the original online blog post all appear in the book, but they are positioned to accommodate the three-column format; as a result your posts in the book will look different than that in the original online posts.  The paragraph separation and font size and position of photo captions will also be different–but not distastefully so.
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Copyright 2021, John D. Tew
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All photos by the author.
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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Mission Accomplished -- Capturing Blog Posts In Permanent Book Form (August 28, 2021)


My eight-month long hiatus from blogging is now coming to an end and I am slowly going to get back to posting again.  The task I set for myself of capturing my 750+ blog posts into book form for more permanent preservation is finally accomplished.  As the photos above illustrate, I now have six hard-bound volumes of  nearly a decade of blog posts.  The last four volumes (shown in the top photo) have been produced using the web-based application IntoRealPages.

I first blogged about my blog-to-book efforts back on February 20, 2015 when I produced the first volume of the book version of my blog using an application called Blurb. That post, "Want To Preserve All Your Genealogy Blog Efforts? Better book it!," can be viewed in its entirety here.

As I wrote in that first post, I became concerned that a blog really exists only as digital code stored in the cloud or as stored on one's computer and backup media.  The problem is that with the rush of technology changes, concerns about hacker attacks, and other factors beyond our personal control, there is no guarantee that the content so painstakingly created today will be available for future generations to access easily.  Who knows what technology will be available to our great, great, grandchildren and whether the content in the cloud today will exist there then–and if so whether tomorrow's technology will be able to access the content?  How many today can listen to 8-track tapes found in the attic? Who is able to get stored content off a Zip drive discovered in the dark recesses of an old desk drawer? 

Hard copy books on paper are "low-tech" and inexpensive.  With reasonable care they have proven to be remarkably enduring and accessible for hundreds of years.  For these reasons I believe a book version of a genealogy/family history blog is the best way to preserve the content and efforts of today's blogger.

My blog-to-book project has not produced a uniform collection of volumes of my blog.  So far two different book publishers have been used and a close look at the six volumes reveals they differ from each other in a variety of ways.  I have had to learn the features of each of the blog-to-book applications and how to use them.  As with all applications, there is much to learn and use over time finds much to discover that was previously unknown.  For example, the very first volume using Blurb resulted in a dust jacket cover over a solid black binding.  If the dust jacket is lost or destroyed, then there is nothing on the book's binding to indicate what it is–one has to open the book to discover its contents and purpose.  By the time of Volume 2, I learned to use the application to do away with a dust jacket.  I was able to integrate the cover art and text into the book binding itself.

A close examination of the spines of the six volumes in the photo immediately above, reveals that I had to learn how to control the spine text.  Volume 3, the blue book and the first one to use IntoRealPages, indicates that I failed to get the volume number on the spine of that book.  I recovered in the next three volumes using IntoRealPages, but the placement of the volume number is not uniform.  Also, my name as author appears on only three of the volume spines.  This illustrates that until one spends time with a blog-to-book application and is able to master most or all of its features and variations, the best approach is to adopt the view that "variety is the spice of creating a blog-to-book collection."  😊

When Blurb no longer supported Google Blogger, I was forced to find another blog-to-book publisher.  After deciding on IntoRealPages as the new publisher, I posted about the experience on December 20, 2020.  "IntoRealPages–A New Blog-to-Book Producer" can be viewed in its entirety here.  In that post I discussed some pros and cons about the new publisher and mentioned the cost for the book.  Since that review of IntoRealPages I have produced three more volumes and come to learn more about the application and its features.  The "Great Photo Wall" feature is still an imposed attribute of a book so far as I can tell, but is has grown on me even as it adds to the cost of the book.  On the other hand, I have found a balance between making the books more user friendly and decreasing the cost of the books.

In the first volume using IntoRealPages, I mentioned how I liked the "Chapter Index" organization of the book.  That index listed the title and date of each individual blog post and provided the page on which the post started.  [See the photos in the December 20, 2020 post.] This was a great improvement over Blurb, which had no such feature when I used it, but it came at a significant cost increase for the book.  As illustrated in my post of December 20, 2020, organizing each blog post as a "chapter" imposed the addition of a chapter page between each individual post.  Since the cost of a book is based on a per page price, each additional page adds to the overall cost.  Therefore, on the last three volumes I found and used an organizational feature that made the book a little less user friendly, but resulted in cost saving.

Instead of using a chapter index that treated each post as a chapter, I used a "Month Index."  The Month Index organizes all the posts chronologically and divides them up by month instead of by individual post date.  This means that the Month Index will tell the reader the page number where all the posts for a given month and year begin and then the individual posts will be sequential by date within that month with no added chapter page for each post.  This eliminates many redundant chapter pages, but now makes it much more difficult to find an individual blog post quickly by title.  After pondering it, I decided that because the ultimate purpose of the blog-to-book project is to preserve the posts for my descendants into the distant future, the likelihood is that great grandchildren and beyond will not be deterred by an index that does not state where each titled post begins.  If they have an interest at all it will be in browsing through the volumes in chronological order and if a particular post is of importance to them, they will mark or note it in some way to make finding it again easier.  I voted for saving costs now in actual production of the books over user friendliness for descendants.  Others using IntoRealPages might decide to vote the other way. 😊

I like IntoRealPages better than I did Blurb and I hope to use it for all future blog-to-book projects.  If you are looking to preserve your blog for the long run, I recommend IntoRealPages.  The cost is well worth it to pass on to future generations all your family history research, photos, documents, etc.

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Photos by the author.

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Copyright 2021, John D. Tew

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Dear Descendants: The Events of January 6, 2021 (January 8, 2021)

[I remind readers that these occasional letters to my descendants are intended to share and explain my experience living through various momentous events that happened during my life.  As such, they contain my personal opinion.  Others are free to disagree as to what the events meant from their point of view and they should record and preserve their thoughts and beliefs for their descendants to read and judge just as my descendants will do.]

Dear Descendants:

I originally began this post on Monday, January 4, 2021–the day after the meeting and swearing in of the 117th Congress and the day before the momentous Senate elections in the state of Georgia that would determine which party would control the new Senate after the general election of November 3, 2020. 

Following the November 2020 general elections, the Democratic Party retained control of the House of Representatives, albeit it with a smaller majority than before the elections.  Control of the new Senate was undecided and literally hung in the balance because there were 50 Republican Senators after the general election and there were 46 Democratic Senators with two Independent Senators who caucused with the Democrats–leaving a Senate of 50 Republicans and 48 Senators who voted as Democrats. 

The Georgia Senate races provided an unusual sitation where both U.S. Senate seats were up for election in runoffs on January 5, 2021 because no candidate received more than 50% of the votes in the original elections held on November 3, 2020.  One of the two races was a special election to fill the remaining two years in the term of Republican Senator John H. Isakson, who had resigned due to health reasons after being re-elected to his third six-year tem in 2016.  His seat had been filled with an appointment by Republican Governor Brian Kemp and neither the appointed Senator, Kelly Loeffler, nor any of her opponents–particularly Democrat Rafael Warnock–had been able to garner more than 50% of the vote.  The nation was watching the Georgia elections (about $500 million dollars–half a billion dollars–was poured into the race) to see which way control of the Senate would go.  Because the Democrats, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, had won the presidency and the vice presidency in the November elections, a 50/50 Senate would be controlled by the Democrats with the slimest of margins.  The Vice President, as President of the Senate, is the tie breaking vote.  While a sweep of both Senate seats by the Democratic candidates was possible, it was generally deemed to be unlikely both seats would flip to the Democrats.

When this post was originally started, the nation was also focused on January 6th, 2021 (two days ago) as the date that the Congress would receive, open, and count the certified elector results from each of the states, thereby confirming officially Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, as the President-elect and the Vice President-elect.  Throughout the nation's history the process of opening and counting the electoral college votes had normally been a ministerial, pro forma, event, but this year the event was a matter of serious concern and anything but a minsterial, pro forma ceremony because the incumbent president, Donald J. Trump, had for the first time in our history refused to conceded the election based on a claim of widespread fraud across several states.  Moreover, for the nearly nine weeks since the general election he and his supporters had tried to undo the election results in a handful of states.  Dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits had been filed by Republicans and, through a clarion claim that the presidential election had been rigged and stolen from the Republicans, diehard Trump supporters in the public, in elective office, and in the conservative media sought to undermine the legitimacy of the election results.  Donald Trump ignored the raging virus pandemic in the country that had already killed 350,000 Americans and seemed to be engaged only in playing golf and badgering Republicans to make every effort to throw out election results in several states based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud.  And then on Saturday, January 2nd Donald Trump forced an hour long call directly to the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia (Brad Raffensperger) to harangue him about Georgia's certified presidential tally and culminate with, "So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state."

On Wednesday, January 6th Molly and I were ready to sit down to watch the live broadcast of the receipt, opening, and counting of the certified electoral college votes from the states.  By 11:00 AM Donald Trump's "Save America/Stop the Steal Rally" was underway near the Ellipse after Trump had tweeted weeks earlier (on December 19th),"Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild!"  There were already thousands of Trump supporters at the protest rally when Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. spoke to the crowd and were followed by Rudy Guiliani (Trump's personal lawyer and formerly Mayor of New York City during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center), who said, "Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat."  Then Donald Trump, the sitting President of the United States, spoke to the assembled throng for more than an hour and said during his monologue, "Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal."  He also encouraged the assembled crowd to march on the Capitol, saying, "We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. If he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution. Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here. We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong." 

At the conclusion of Donald Trump's discourse thousands of demonstrators began walking down Constitution Avenue to the Capitol in a sea of Trump flags, Tea Party flags, Q Anon signs and shirts, and American flags while Trump retreated to the White House.

Photo by Shawn Thew AP/Bloomberg from NBC 4 Washington, DC website

Photo by Ringo Chiu/AP via Getty images from NBC 4 Washington, DC website

By 1:10 PM, thousands of demonstrators arrived at the Capitol building grounds and began grappling with police at the security barriers and on the Capitol steps.  They soon became rioters storming the Capitol.

Photo by John Minchillo/AP from NBC 4 Washington, DC website


Photo by Julio Cortez/AP 

Photo from Reuters Pictures via Twitter
A joint session of Congress commenced around 1:00 PM with Vice President Pence presiding over the event.  Despite days of pressure from Donald Trump for the Vice President to exceed his constitutional authority and single handedly throw out certified elector votes from a handful of states Trump lost in November, Mr. Pence began the roll call of states amid suspence about what would actually happen when the first state on Trump's challenge list was reached.  In the days prior to Congress convening to do the official electoral college tally, 14 Senate Republicans and about 140 House Republicans had indicated they were going to object to the acceptance of electoral results from several states.  It was important to those wanting to disrupt the electoral college results that at least one Senator and one Representative combine to make any objection; otherwise any objection to an individual state's tally would fail.  The alphabetical roll call of the states began and the results from Alaska and Alabama (both won by Donald Trump) were accepted without objection and recorded.  At about 1:15 PM the state of Arizona was called and was immediately objected to by Rep. Paul Gozar of Arizona and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.  This caused the two houses to devolve into ther own chambers to debate and vote on the eligible obection.  This was very disappointing when it actually happened, but it was expected.

And then, during the debate on the Arizona objection (at about 2:15 PM) Vice President Pence was suddenly ushered out of the chamber and unexpected, confused movement in the Senate chamber ensued.  Both chambers of Congress were evacuated by Capitol Police and the Capitol building, the "People's House," was put on lockdown.  As of that moment, the narrative of this letter to you descendants had to take a differnet tone and direction. 

After the illegal breach of the security perimeter around the Capitol was accomplished, the demonstrators morphed from protest to riot and they forced their way into the Capitol building by breaking windows.  Once in, the ransacking of the interior of the building began and ultimately led to at least two deaths--a female rioter inside the Capitol was shot by a policeman and a policeman trying to defend the Capitol was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher and later died of the injury.  Others died either inside or outside the Capitol building leading to a total of five riot-related deaths as of the January 8th date of this post. 

The rioting led to significant damage and vandalism inside the Capitol.  Windows were smashed, doors were broken, at least one bust was covered with blood, offices were trashed and looted.  One man walked off with the lectern of the Speaker of the House and her gavel was reported stolen.  Trash was littered everywhere.  But the rioters were finally driven away from the Capitol grounds after the 6:00 PM curfew began being enforced by the presence of police–with the FBI and National Guard called in to assist.  The Congress returned to joint session and by early the next morning the counting of the electoral college tally was completed and Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winner of the 2020 election and will be sworn in on January 20th at noon.  As of today however, various civilian "militia" groups have said they will be in Washington to protest at the inauguration!  It remains to be seen how that will work out, but by the time this is read by you the result will be a matter of history already known to you.

Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta

Photo by Win McNamee/AP

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Photo by Olivier Douliery/AP

Photo by Leigh Ann Caldwell via Twitter.  [The round sticker is a piture of Joe Biden
 with the words "Not My President!"  The rectagular stickers say "F*** ANTIFA."]

Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters

As you descendants should know, Molly and I lived on Capitol Hill for a year and a half in 1978-79.  We were on Maryland Ave. just off Stanton Park and a couple of blocks behind the Library of Congress and the Capitol grounds across the street.  We are quite familiar with that area from a time when I could go for a run and run up the steps of the east front of the Capitol and around the other side down the steps to run to the Lincoln Memorial and back.  I would often stop my run on the way back home to stand on the western front and look down the Mall.  One could still at the time walk into the Capitol rotunda and around the Capitol grounds.  It was indeed the "People's House" and the symbol it all represented did approach the sacred.  On January 6th, 2021 it was desecrated by demonstrators turned rioters; but more importantly when the purpose of the melee they wrought in the Capitol is understood, they turned into insurectionists.  They wanted to intimidate and threaten the Congress into throwing out enough elector votes to keep the losing candidate in power.  It was undemocratic in its purpose and, as one of their flags left littering the floor of the Capitol proclaimed,  it was treason.  Many, if not most of those who broke into the Capitol came armed with weapons of various description, includng Molotov cocktains, spikes, clubs, or they made weapons out of materials they found inside the Capitol.  They were trying to prevent the newly and duly elected executive officers of our country from assuming their office two weeks hence.

Today, January 8th, 2021, some 50 people have been arrested and charged.  Authorities are searching the mountain of photographic evidence identifying the people who stormed and ransacked the Capitol.  Many more arrests are sure to follow.  The last two days have been spent with mounting calls for the removal of Donald Trump from office.  Calls for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment are gaining support and some Republicans are speaking out in tepid support, most are not.  There have been resignations by two cabinet members and many of lower rank.  The House has drafted new articles of impeachment to submit for a vote within the next two to three days if Trump does not resign or the 25th Amendment is not invoked.

The implications of the damage that was done to our country and the serious concern that was caused among many nations of the world is only slowly being comprehended.  In the ransacking of the Capitol computers were stolen and classifed material could have been exposed.  It is not an exaggeration to say national security could have been jeopardized.  The full repercussions will take weeks if not months to uncover and analyze–and in many respects this was all foreseeable when the behavior of Donald Trump over most of the last decade is considered.  As Jeb Bush said of Trump when he was running against him in the 2016 primaries, "He's a chaos candidate and he'd be a chaos president!"  He has been exactly that and now we are left with the pieces that have to be put back together.  I hope we make it to January 20th and beyond without further violence or an outbreak of  civil war.

Finally, for the genealogical record, know that Molly and I did all we could to avoid Donald Trump rising to power .  We voted against him twice and made monetary donations to those opposed to him and his policies in 2016, 2018 and again in 2020.  We believed from day one that with Donald Trump as president things would get very ugly--sadly we were correct.  We believe history is going to be a harsh judge of Donald Trump and deservedly so, but you will know the ultimate result of that assessment, not us.

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Copyright 2021, John D. Tew
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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Into Real Pages -- A New Blog-to-Book Producer (December 20, 2020)

Ever since I began blogging I have worried about how best to preserve for my sons–and now my granddaughters–the fruits of my family history blogging efforts.  As I first mentioned in a blog post dated February 20, 2015 (three years into my blogging), having the blog exist only out there on the web was not enough to ensure its survival for descendants now and into the future.  At the time, I had discovered Blurb as a source for easily converting my blog into book form.  I used Blurb for two volumes of a 12" x 12" hardback reproduction of my blog into book form.  But then Blurb stopped supporting the Blogger format for "slurping" the blog content into a book project that allowed me to review and edit the content and look to best reproduce the blog in book form.  And all the time I continued posting on the blog so that content was growing, but capture was at a standstill.  This past year I decided I had to do something about finding a replacement blog-to-book provider.

After a few hours of research online this past summer, I finally settled on a new to me provider known as "Into Real Pages" and as a result I have completed a trial run of another book form volume of The Prism covering three months of posts from 2013 (that is how far behind I am).  The book arrived this week and I must say I am pretty happy with it despite some limitations.

The new Volume 3 has a completely different look than the first two volumes, because duplicating the same look I had with Blurb proved to be either too difficult or not possible (as you can see by comparing the look below with that from the original post on my blog-to-book project back in February 2015).

Into Real Pages currently supports Blogger and other popular blog formats (and I hope they continue to do so).  For this first trial run, I captured quite easily and quickly three months worth of blog posts from 2013 and they were automatically put into a book project form for me to review and edit.  The editing ability is broad and easy, but there are some limitations imposed in the present form of the Into Real Pages application (which is done entirely on the web).  I found the editing pretty easy and frankly less involved and time consuming than Blurb was.  The photos were better placed with Into Real Pages and required much less moving and correcting.  Like Blurb, Into Real Pages does not provide an exact duplication of the layout and look of the blog posts themselves, but it does a very good job of laying out the essentials with a minimal need for correction, moving, and editing.

Here is an inside look at one of the blog posts that can be compared to the original Blogger post of August 19, 2013

This also illustrates one of the limitations of Into Real Pages that is apparently a feature of their application and cannot be changed.  Each post has its original title converted into a full-page title page, which is superfluous inasmuch as it duplicates the blog post title that appears automatically as the heading of the post immediately beside the created title page.  Not only is this redundant, it increases the pages in the book and thus the cost.  This is something I hope Into Real Pages changes or at least gives the creator control over.

There are a couple of features of Into Real Pages that I like more than Blurb.  Foremost of the improved features is the table of contents at the front of the book (called "Chapter index" by Into Real Pages).  This allows one to find exactly what page a particular blog post starts on, whereas Blurb just placed the posts in the chronological order in which they were "slurped" into the project (unless one edited the order).  Blurb provided page numbers within the book, but no way to have a table of contents or an index to find exactly where a post could be turned to--they simply followed in chronological order throughout the book and some posts ran into more than one or two pages.  With Into Real Pages one can see the actual page where a particular post begins and turn directly to it.  It makes the book more user friendly in my opinion.

There is another feature that I think I like, but it is really not necessary and, as with the redundant subject pages, serves to make the book length longer and somewhat more costly–but it does look nice and is growing on me, which is good because as I understand it the feature is imposed and cannot be deleted.  [That having been said though, I have to confess this was a first attempt with Into Real Pages and I might not be fully versed in the use of the application and what things can be changed.]. The feature is the "Great Photo Wall" that occupies the first two pages of the book.  The Photo Wall reproduces in thumbnail form photos from the blog posts in a collage of color as you can see below.  Some of the photos get cut off in odd places decapitating some statues and people, but the full photos can be seen at the Post themselves.

In summary, I am happy with this trial run of Into Real Pages and I hope they continue to support Blogger for some time to come so that I can catch up with converting my existing posts into book form.

So what about the cost?

As with Blurb I wanted to produce my blog books in the 12" x 12" square, hardback format on high quality glossy paper.  The cost runs about $1.15 per page for the first 80 pages in that format.  Each additional page above the first 80 is $0.60.  Into Real Pages does offer discounts periodically--especially if you purchase more than one copy at a time.  As you would expect, there was a holiday discount offered and my savings on three copies of a 174-page book was a total of $102.34.  Each 174-page book came out to a net cost of $137.75 (with tax and shipping from Germany included), which works out to an actual cost of 77 cents per page.  The books are not cheap, but the quality is good and when viewed as a very long term investment in preserving family history, the cost is then "amortized" over many years and I think the books are worth the cost and effort.  I see no reason why minimal care of the books would not allow them to be enjoyed by generations of descendants.

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Readers might have noticed that there have been no Saturday Serendipity posts for the last couple of weeks.  That feature of Filiopietism Prism is now on an indefinite hiatus.  The time devoted to the reading and writing that went into each Saturday Serendipity post is being reallocated to a push to catch up with converting the accumulated posts on this blog into book form.

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Friday, December 18, 2020

Amends (December 18, 2020)

[Bernard A. Handler is my brother-in-law (husband of my sister Susan).  He has been a guest blogger here before  In fact, back in 2014 he was the first ever guest blogger here at The Prism.  This time Bernie shares a short story about a Christmas long ago and his mother's yearning in a time of Depression hardship to provide a little holiday cheer in her family's home.  It is a story of understanding and amends that captures the spirit of the season.]

Ellen Forbes circa 1930 with possible nephew and dog


by Bernard A. Handler

My grandmother Sarah Clay Forbes departed Leicester, England in 1908 with six kids in tow. She and her children sailed from Liverpool on a ship named the Hartford and arrived in Philadelphia to join her husband, Thomas Albert Forbes, a loom operator. The family settled in Germantown and grew: six more children, and in 1921 a seventh, my mother Ellen, the baby of thirteen. 

During the Great Depression the family managed - a rented roof overhead, food to eat, clean clothes to wear, but little else. As the Christmas of ’33 approached Ellen decided to find a Christmas tree for her family’s home on Bringhurst Street. One evening with the help of a friend, she snuck onto the grounds of the First United Methodist Church on the corner of Germantown Avenue and High Street and cut down a tree which she and her accomplice carried back to the Forbes’ household. 

First United Methodist Church of Germantown (circa 1905)

Six years later Ellen became the first in her family to graduate from high school, Germantown High, right across the street from the church, the same school from which my sister Beryl and I graduated in ’65 and ’67 respectively. Ellen first told me the story of the stolen tree several years before she died in 2009. My initial reaction was, “Geez Mom, a church. Why a church?” Her sheepish reply, “They had quite a few so I didn’t think they’d miss one.

Certainly Esther, the current United Methodist Interim Office Administrator, nor the present pastor, Bob, missed the tree since they were unaware of Ellen’s 87-year-old transgression until Monday, July 27, 2020.  On that date, my wife Susan and I stopped by the church office to make a voluntary donation to the church and to confess Ellen’s crime–perhaps in hope of absolution.  Judging by the looks on the faces of Esther and Bob, and their positive reception of the background story, Ellen can rest in peace. 

Ellen Forbes Handler, thank you for guiding me with love and teaching me that through forgiveness peace is found.

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Copyright 2020, Bernard A. Handler

Published with the permissionof the author.

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Success, But Support Still Needed: An UPDATE on the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act


Cadet Nurse Corps recruitment poster

Cadet Nurse Corps badge

Cadet Nurse Corps pledge pin

Since the post of December 5th,  many citizens, former Cadet Nurses, and family members of deceased Cadet Nurses contacted the office of Senate Minority Leader, Charles E. Schumer [D-NY], and as a result he added his name as co-sponsor of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act on December 7th–making him the 36th co-sponsor.  Such a significant and meaningful date to have signed on (Pearl Harobor Day). Thank you Senator Schumer!

The strong bipartisan support for this long overdue recognition of Cadet Nurse Corps members for their vital service during WWII is now at just over half of the U.S. Senate.  More needs to be done, however.  There are still some states whose senators have not added their names to the support for this Act.  Perhaps they have not been informed about the nature of the Act, that it is virtually a no-cost piece of legislation, and that it provides long delayed and overlooked recognition to a female medical workforce that answered the call of the country in a time of serious need and thereby saved the country's health care system from total collapse.  By the oft used terms of "heroic" service today, they were heroines of their time!

The following 26 states count one or both of their senators among the co-sponsors of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act:  New York, Maine, Montana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Alabama, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Delaware, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, North Dakota, Washington, Arkansas, Vermont, West Virginia, Nevada, and Louisiana.  This means that barely half the states have had one or both of their senators weigh in on support for minimal recognition of these heroines of WWII.  

The senators from the other 24 states need help to do the right thing and add their support for this important Act.  They may be very busy during the close of this Congress and have not been reminded of the pending Act, so we need to remind them and urge them to step up and join their colleagues from both parties to remedy this oversight.  These are the 24 unrepresented states on the co-sponsorship of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act:  Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, California, Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, New Mexico, Indiana, Iowa, and Hawaii.

Lest we forget the vital role nurses play in our health care system, we have a very stark reminder playing out before our very eyes on a daily basis during this COVID pandemic.  Nurses are sacrificing their family life and sometimes even their very lives to keep our health care system functioning and to prevent even more catastrophic loss of life than we have experienced so far.  During WWII about 124,000 young women stepped up in a similar way to save lives and to keep our health care system from imploding.  They were role models for generations of nurses and the nurses today are their direct descendants.  We owe the Cadet Nurses the minimal recognition and honor that the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act would provide.

Perhaps some of your ancestors or relatives were attended to and cared for by a Cadet Nurse.  If you believe those young nurses then and our nurses today provide an invaluable service that should be recognized (no matter how late), then please reach out to the U.S. Senators in the unrepresented states listed above and urge them to sign on to S997 as co-sponsors right away.  It is an easy, but so meaningful way to say thank you to all the nurses that have touched your lives!   
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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 5, 2020

A Long Overdue Recognition of Service--And How YOU Can Help (December 5, 2020)

Today is a special post in lieu of the usual Saturday Serendipity, but it does include this recommended read

As the COVID 19 pandemic rages throughout our country and our medical system is being stressed to the point of near collapse in many areas of the nation, it is worth pausing to consider that in some respects we have been here before.  Just as 102 years ago we suffered at least 675,000 American deaths due to a virulent strain of influenza that challenged scientists, physicians, and nurses, we are again finding ourselves relying on front-line medical professionals to battle a deadly disease–and they are being stretched and stressed to the breaking point.

We have been here before.  Beginning 77 years ago and lasting for just over five years the nation called on a segment of its population (entirely women) to come to the aid of the country during a medical care crisis.  It was not due to a deadly virus or influenza at that time, but rather to a severe loss of medical personnel as the result of World War Two.  After the entry of the U.S. into the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, doctors and nurses were swept up into service in the war effort in such numbers that the majority of nurses were no longer available to serve the domestic medical needs of the country.  As a result, a call was put out to increase dramatically and quickly the number of nurses so that the medical needs of the country could be met while the home front worked to supply and support the military efforts overseas during the war.

Beginning in 1943 and lasting until the end of 1948, about 124,000 women answered the nation's call and pledged to devote essential nursing services for the duration of WWII.  These women joined the newly enacted uniformed service known as the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps and received training, financial assistance, and a small allowance in exchange for their open ended pledge of service.  It is estimated that Cadet Nurses were soon providing 80% of the critically needed nursing care in civilian, government, and military hospitals during WWII and they have been credited with preventing a total collapse of the U.S. health care system as the war raged on.

But then–and for the last seven-plus decades–the members of the Cadet Nurse Corps have never really received the recognition, appreciation, and honor that they surely earned and deserved.  In this respect, the Cadet Nurse Corps was overlooked or forgotten in a similar way that the members of the U.S. Merchant Marine serving to supply our military during WWII were treated for several decades until they were finally recognized by the Merchant Marine Decorations and Medals Act of 1988.  [See this previous post on that subject here on The Prism.]

Presently there is pending before the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives two identical bills to rectify this long overdue recognition of the service of the members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.  IF these bills are passed and included in the year-end omnibus package, the surviving members of the Cadet Nurse Corps and the families of those deceased Cadet Nurses can finally receive the virtually no-cost recognition and honors they so admirably earned and deserve.  The text of the Senate bill, S997 is as follows .  .  .

If you believe the nurses of the uniformed U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps deserve this belated recognition for their contributions to the nation's war efforts and the preservation of the country's health care system during WWII, please contact Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ASAP to voice your support and request inclusion in the omnibus package.  Your support can be noted by calling his Washington office at (202)224-6542 or his New York Office at (631)753-0978.  It is easy and you can just leave a message if the office is not answering live calls due to the pandemic.  It will take less than two minutes to accomplish.  

Very few of the 124,000 Cadet Nurse Corps members are still with us and those few are running out of time to receive and see the long overdue recognition the bills provide and that they so richly deserve.

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In the interest of full disclosure .  .  .

Shirley Carpenter in her Cadet Nurse Uniform circa 1944

My mother, who will turn 94 this coming March, was a Cadet Nurse.  On July 22, 2016, I blogged about her service in the Cadet Nurse Corps and you can read that post here.

AND FINALLY, as we daily see the agonizingly hard work and emotional toil and stress that our front-line COVID nurses and doctors are dealing with as this pandemic accelerates, it is not too early to suggest that we begin now to consider how their hard work and sacrifice to assure their communities and nation can weather and recover from this horrific pandemic can be recognized and honored.  Just as the current bills to recognize and honor the members of the Cadet Nurse Corps allow for the design and production of a medal to award to the Cadet Nurses, we should make sure that a truly grateful nation takes similar steps to honor the doctors, nurses, and other front-line health care workers who served to get us through this pandemic.  It is the least we can do.  They should not have to wait decades to receive some manifest token of appreciation and gratitude from a thankful nation.

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Saturday Serendipity (November 21, 2020)


Below are a few suggested reads for your weekend.

1.   Today is the anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.  Under the Old Style calendar in effect at the time, the Compact was signed on November 21, 1620 as the Mayflower remained anchored in the harbor at is what now Provincetown, Massachusetts.  You can read more about the Pilgrims and the Compact here at the

2.   If you have ancestors or relatives that served in the U.S. Army, you should be aware of the opening of one of the nation's newest museums.  The National Museum of the U.S. Army opened this month in Fairfax County, Virginia just outside Fort Belvoir.  You can read more about the museum here.

3.   Jacqi Stevens, of A Family Tapestry blog, discusses genealogy volunteerism and has a suggestion for a needed project for anyone who might be looking, as Jacqi puts it, to "give back" in recognition of all the helpful genealogical resources other volunteers have made possible.  Read here Jacqi's post, "Instead of Indexing, Trying Something New." 

4.   Have you ever thought about donating an artifact, document, or other item to a respository?  If so, you should read a recent post, "How to Donate an Item to a Repository" by Marian B. Wood, of Climbing My Family Tree blog. 

5.   There are two items of interest posted this week by James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star blog.  The first is the 5th installment in his series on reading handwritten documents.  The second is a post listing a number of FREE virtual classes, webinars, and videos available from the BYU Family History Library.  You can read the list here.

6.   Have you ever received or inherited a box full of genealogy "stuff?"  Most of us have or will at some point.  So is there some advice–or even a practical process–for dealing with such usually unorganized treasures?  The answer is "yes" and Janine Adams, of Organize Your Family History blog, has written about the challenge and linked to the blog and presentation by Stacy Julian, who first caught Janine's attention on the subject.  You can read Janine's post and get a link to Stacy's presentation and .pdf handout here.  

7.   Finally, if you have been waiting for an opportune moment to obtain books on the Mayflower and the Great Migration, NEHGS/American Ancestor is having a 20% off sale on their Great Migration and Mayflower titles.  You can see the titles available here.  The sale ends November 25th. 

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Copyright 2020, John D. Tew

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