Looking to do some self-publishing? Here’s a Blurb discount for you

Blurb preview
I have used Blurb since 2008. Since 2011 I have produced a quarterly magazine recording family memories. My family and I write the text and take the photos, I mix the text and images in creative, eye-catching layouts, and Blurb prints each issue beautifully and professionally. It has become a real treasure for our family.

Even in our electronic and digital age, for the most important things there is still nothing quite like the feel of paper in your hands — the touch of something that connects you to a particular moment or person in your life.

Blurb logoThat is why I have come to love the website Blurb. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s a self-publishing platform that allows you to write, design, and print your own books and magazines in a variety of formats. I’ve used it for years now and have come to rely on it for everything from keepsakes for my own family to gifts for friends and loved ones.

If you’re new to self-publishing or Blurb, you can use my own personal link below to get a promo code for a $15 discount on your first book with a minimum purchase of $30. (Please note that you must be a new Blurb customer to qualify for this discount. Additional terms and conditions at the link.)

Happy Blurb-ing!

Remembering a date that “will live in infamy”

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai‘i. On 7 December 1941, 353 planes launched from six aircraft carriers of the Japanese Imperial Navy carried out the surprise attack, in which 19 U.S. ships were damaged or destroyed and 1,178 servicemen were wounded while 2,403 were killed.

The next day, 8 December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous addresses in American history to a shocked nation. Addressing a joint session of Congress, Mr. Roosevelt declared that the date of the attack would “live in infamy.” He outlined Japanese aggressions that were then taking place against the United States and its allies throughout the Pacific and he sought to stir up the nation in its resolve to fend off this threat. In closing, he asked Congress to make a formal declaration of war against Japan.

Within the hour Congress had done so, with only one dissenting vote: that of lifelong pacifist Jeannette Rankin, a Republic representative from Montana who was also the first female member of Congress. It was only the fifth war formally declared by Congress using the power given to it in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution; to this day World War II remains the last conflict for which Congress has passed a formal declaration of war.

The United States entered World War II, which would last until U.S. planes dropped the first, and so far only, atomic bombs used in war on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945. Starting in 1942, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans — loyal citizens of the United States — were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war.

To mark this anniversary, and to help teachers in their efforts to teach the complex events and issues surrounding World War II, the Great Documents Curriculum Series includes a new document with Mr. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech. In addition to the full transcript of the speech, with a number of footnotes to help readers understand people, places, and events referenced in the address, the document also includes the full text of the joint resolution passed by Congress to declare war on Japan. The document is just two pages — perfect for efficient front-back printing — and includes the other features of the Great Documents Curriculum Series.

This new documents comes on the heels of another new document in the series, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, in which he made his resounding call, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” It was posted on 22 November 2016, the 53rd anniversary of his assassination in Dallas in 1963.

A digital preview of the newest addition to the Great Documents Curriculum Series is below. Both documents are available for purchase and digital download in PDF format for just on Scribd and Teachers Pay Teachers:

Introducing the Great Documents Curriculum Series

Magna Carta: An 800th anniversary print
My modern print of Magna Carta, released in 2015 for the document’s 800th anniversary, has sold well throughout North America. It was a featured keepsake item at museums that hosted a traveling exhibit of Durham Cathedral’s original copy of Magna Carta across Canada that year.

A few years ago I introduced my Great Documents series, which features display-worthy prints of major historical documents in easy-to-read modern type. These have sold well for several years. My print of the Constitution of the United States, for example, is the only print of its type on the market; other available prints are only facsimiles of the original parchment and don’t include the entire Constitution, which today includes both the original nine articles as well as the 27 amendments. They can be beautiful, but that eighteenth-century handwritten script can be hard to read, and they don’t convey basic information, such as which parts of the document are today obsolete or have been superseded by amendments.

Today I’m proud to announce a new set of prints in the Great Documents series especially created with classrooms in mind. The new Great Documents Curriculum Series is designed to help teachers bring meaning and life to the words of these important documents for their students. And they are designed to maximize schools’ limited resources and budgets.

Features | Availability | Free sample


Great Documents Curriculum Series: features

  1. A consistent, well-designed layout that makes incorporating the documents into lessons and assignments easy and helps students and teachers alike orient themselves quickly.
  2. The document’s title, country of origin, and year written are clearly indicated.
  3. Body text is set in easy-to-read 11-point type.
  4. Lines of text are numbered for easy reference in classroom discussion.
  5. A lined section on the right side of each page provides space for the reader to take notes. (These lines use college-ruled spacing.)
  6. Pages are numbered to help readers keep the document in order.
  7. The handouts are optimized for black-and-white printing, and the total ink coverage on the page has been reduced to save printer/photocopier ink/toner and lower printing costs. Where possible, handouts are an even number of pages — perfect for front-back printing.
  8. Study helps, including explanatory headers and footnotes as well as brief introductions on some documents, are included. These are set in sans-serif type to distinguish them from the original or official text of the document.

Some documents have additional features to enhance usability.


The Great Documents Curriculum Series is currently on sale at my new shop on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as on Scribd. The following documents are currently available, with more to come soon.

  • Magna Carta (England, 1215)
    TpT | Scribd | 7 pages | $6.00
  • The Declaration of Independence (United States, 1776)
    TpT | Scribd | 3 pages | $5.00
  • The Articles of Confederation (United States, 1777)
    TpT | Scribd | 7 pages | $6.00
  • The Constitution of the United States (1787–1992)
    TpT | Scribd | 15 pages | $7.00
  • The Bill of Rights (United States, 1789)
    TpT | Scribd | 2 pages | $3.00
  • George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (United States, 1789)
    TpT | Scribd | 1 page | free
  • The Emancipation Proclamation (United States, 1863)
    TpT | Scribd | 2 pages | $3.00
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (United States, 1863)
    TpT | Scribd | 1 page | $2.00
  • The Gettyburg Address (United States, 1863)
    TpT | Scribd | 1 page | free through 20 November 2016
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (United States, 1865)
    TpT | Scribd | 2 pages | $3.00

Free sample

You can download George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation for free at Teachers Pay Teachers or Scribd. You can also check out the full document below.

The facts behind the “facts”: The reality of public meetings on major projects

A Facebook acquaintance of mine posted an update declaring that she wanted “FACTS” (her capitalization, not mine) about the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to her, the facts are that “there were many meetings years ago to discuss the possibility of the pipeline where locals had the opportunity to voice their opinion and it’s recorded that there was not a lot of opposition at these meetings.”

OK, so let’s talk about a few facts about these sorts of public meetings.

  1. Statement in public notice about the Dakota Access Pipeline
    This is an actual statement that appeared in a public notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the Dakota Access Pipeline. Is this English or Newspeak?

    Often the only legally required public announcement about an upcoming meeting like this is in the legal notices section of the newspaper. The legal notices section of the newspaper. Did you know there was one? (Did you know that newspapers still exist?) In my experience they’re usually in the “local” or “metro” section of the newspaper, in the back, tucked in among classified ads, with the same sort of small print. Compelling, must-read stuff there, people! So, clearly these people should have known the public meetings were taking place.

  2. These meetings are often held at places and times that make them difficult to attend. I mean, really, what person working full-time with young children at home can’t make time to attend a two-hour-long meeting at 5.30pm on a Tuesday evening about a project that may (or may not) be built five to ten years from now? Especially when the meeting is conveniently held 20 or 30 miles from where you live.
  3. The full scope of the project, and its full impact, is often not apparent at these meetings. If the final design or environmental impact statement is available at the time of these meetings, text is often heavy on jargon and legalese, not everyday language that makes it easy for the average layperson to understand what will actually be happening. And images? Well, since we’re all experts at reading blueprints and technical diagrams, the obvious impact on water supplies two decades from now should really be apparent, shouldn’t it? And all of that is assuming that the final design is presented at these meetings. Often projects are still in preliminary stages of planning at the time of these meetings — one of the reasons jargon-y, technical language and diagrams are all that’s available. And the full scope and impact of a project may not be apparent until after the final design, which is often completed after these public meetings.

    Dakota Access Pipeline diagram
    This is an actual diagram that appeared in that public notice I mentioned above. That red line just looks like it’s going to destroy the water supply for an entire group of people, doesn’t it?
  4. It is difficult to organize vocal, impactful opposition to appear at these meetings. I refer you back to items 1 and 2 above. If you want to stand as the lone voice of opposition in front of a panel of elected officials and highly-paid and highly-educated technocrats, go ahead. That’s noble of you, and I respect you for it. But it gets lonely out there, and if it feels like you’re just talking to the wall, it’s because you very well may be. In part because of item 5.
  5. These meetings are often held just to fulfill the legal requirement that a public meeting be held. But, let’s face it, the government and its private-sector partners aren’t really looking for feedback or support or opposition. They’re just looking to mark a checkbox on their way to rubber-stamping a project. So, even if there were overwhelming opposition to a project at these public meetings, it may not matter.

If you found out that a proposed project had the potential to pollute your water supply, threatening your health and livelihood as well as that of your family, friends, and community and irreparably damaging your land, should I really tell you to keep your mouth shut because there was a public meeting about it years ago and you didn’t show up? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Do you think the president and the media and the public are really going to pay attention to someone who voices their opposition in a three-minute statement at the microphone at one of these public meetings? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

All of this is why we have a First Amendment that guarantees freedom of petition and peaceable assembly, because sometimes that’s the only way to voice your opinion at the time that it actually matters. It is difficult to fault the Standing Rock tribe for their opposition to the pipeline or the way in which they’ve chosen to express that opposition. Failure to show up at or express opposition at some public meeting about a major infrastructure project years before that project actually happens is not tacit approval of the project. The window to voice your opinion does not close when the meeting is over, because the First Amendment keeps it wide, wide open.

President by a technicality? No thanks

A seemingly inordinate number of my Facebook friends are showing their support for a third-party presidential candidate, Evan McMullin. (This is probably because, compared to the general population, an inordinate number of my friends, both on Facebook and in real life, are from Utah and/or Mormon.)

I have no intention of voting for Mr. McMullin. Words such as “Republican,” “conservative,” and “libertarian” do not describe my political views. That’s not to say that I entirely disagree with people or parties whose views can be described in those terms, but, generally speaking, that’s not just where my beliefs lie. So you can stop trying to convince me.

But, hey, it’s Facebook, and it’s an (incredibly bizarre) election year, and lots of people are talking about their preferred candidate — I’ve done it once or twice myself. Yet something else has started to happen that actually does alarm me (beyond the potential victory of Donald Trump, which, thankfully, seems increasingly unlikely). It is this theorizing that Mr. McMullin could actually become our president by winning Utah, which could potentially block both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from securing the 270 electoral votes they need to win the election outright. In that case, the House of Representatives would choose the president — and some hope that the Republican majority in the House would prefer Mr. McMullin over their party’s own nominee. What began as a theory now seems to be a sincere hope among many of Mr. McMullin’s supporters.

I DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. First of all, the idea that, ultimately, House Republicans would turn their back on their party’s own nominee is a stretch. I understand they don’t like Donald Trump any more than the rest of us. But he is, technically, their candidate.

Further, listen, I understand that this is how the election process works as laid out by the Twelfth Amendment. But that’s a constitutional procedure that I would rather not be invoked (kind of like how many of Mr. McMullin’s supporters probably wish the Sixteenth Amendment were never invoked). But I already view the electoral college as a limitation of American democracy. And this entire election itself seems to be straining our democratic system. Why would I want our democracy to be eroded even further, one, by having the House of Representatives choose whichever candidate it prefers and, two, for the candidate it chooses to be the one for whom a very small minority of Americans actually voted?

This is a very long way of saying that, while I don’t support Mr. McMullin, it’s OK if you do. But you should not hope that he becomes president by a technicality.