2019: In the works…what is next for Through the Byzantine Gate

Happy New Year’s to all family, friends and blogging colleagues. May you all enjoy abundant prosperity and good health in 2019. My personal wish is that each and everyone of you at some point will be taken into and uplifted by what is known as Flow.

Flow is a state of concentration a person enters when engaged in an activity they love very, very much. As the activity progresses a heightened sense of joy and well-being ensues. At first, Flow is not something you can enter at will. That comes after a continued, sincere and disciplined engagement in the activity.

Being conscious and intent upon entering Flow eventually gives one the ability to enter it little by little. As the enjoyment progresses it is possible that for a while feelings of heat, or cold, or hunger, or mild discomfort are suspended. After returning from Flow to a more usual state of consciousness one is struck by the beauty of simple things or the loveliness within a person such as a gesture or the way they speak. I find it is what I need to recharge my batteries. So I seek Flow through freewriting, blogging, investigation/research on our ancestors but most of all through the conceptual process of fashion sketching (conception)—actualizing the idea through draping or pattern drafting—manifesting the idea in final form through the sewing. Long walks also induce Flow, when the phone is turned off.

Anyone who jogs, works-out, gets involved with a good book, sketches,for example, can achieve Flow. You can also enter Flow in numerous other ways, such as complete involvement in a movie. There is much written about Positive Psychology and Flow. I recommend anyone interested seek it out and develop your own journey towards the experience and its benefits. Flow is part of my personal management system used to lessen migraine seizures.

Continue reading “2019: In the works…what is next for Through the Byzantine Gate”

Welcome 2019!

Welcome New Year!

Welcome the New Year,
Let the bells ring!

Lift up your voices;
Everyone sing!

The New Year’s beginning;
Start it off right.

Bid it good fortune
And welcome tonight.

The Old Year is passing,
But there’s none to mourn.

We are rejoicing;
The New Year is born!


Poem: Millie Motts at flickr

Graphic: Vintage New Year Greeting Card Pinterest

Published using Gutenberg:  Classic Block.

Admin Note: Why we will move the blog to another server-WordPress is becoming unusable

It took me over an hour to create this post and I gave up.  The new editor is unworkable.  Here is the mess that was intended as a tutorial for my colleagues here at wordpress.  Uploading and formatting are too hard.  The frequent saves freeze the screen so I have to wait to resume blogging.  I have sent this example on to WordPress as an example of frustration and disgust.  I encourage family members to look this over as it will give you an insight of what goes on behind the scenes.

Good day to all my subscribers, followers and my family history colleagues. I am pleased to say that I have contacted the relatives that needed to be better informed of my situation and that the response is positive. We will work things out. The FAQs will stay up and be shortened into a clear and easy to follow format. It is a little bit of creative chaos at work.

This posting concerns what blog owners/admins are going through at WordPress. It may or may not interest family members as it is geared to my peers and colleagues. If you read on you will learn how much work goes on behind the scenes to create and publish what you receive in your in-box or read here at the site.

WordPress is changing the editor we use to create the postings. The current screen is called the Classic Editor and is very simple to use for anyone with a basic knowledge of MS Word. I am such an end-user. I am not at all interested in creating elaborate postings. Like many of my colleagues here at WP I create the family history postings in MS Word first. All the formatting, photos, reference links and so on are first created in Word. It is necessary to review and revise many times before publishing the post. This is because family history is always open and subject to change. So, too, is the interpretation of the data. During our weekly discussions, Uncle Sammy very often has a different POV on a subject and he cites very valid reasons and facts. Although memories and emotions play a part in what we present, we do our best to provide factual sources so that our readers can find a common reference, use the Resource links and continue their own research/reflection/inspiration on similar topics. As a result, many times Uncle Sammy reminds me what I have overlooked and what I must update. And so more revisions take place until the material is ready.

As you notice we have a 2 year difference between what you are reading now and when the material was created in 2016. This is to give us time for any new discoveries. We have so much to share and do not want to do it by zig-zagging all over the years. If we rushed with each posting it would mean referring back to previous postings. While this can work it makes for breaks in continuity.

To the heart of this posting: the new Gutenberg editor we are being forced to use is counter-intuitive. The developers at WordPress have created a convoluted system where we now have to think of creating content paragraph by paragraph. Each paragraph takes place in a block. Each block requires numerous clicks and opening of menus to get completed. This is awful for those of us who like to write from the state of consciousness known as FLOW. I will explain what FLOW is after the New Year. It is a technique of focusing and concentrating that is of great assistance in any part of life. I use techniques to enter FLOW as a way to manage my migraine seizures and it has helped in lessening the occurrence. By forcing end users to be so focused on clicking and breaking down the content into such small pieces WordPress Developers have broken any capability for a writer to just WRITE!!! Instead the brain has to go through many mouse clicks and be distracted by the ugly way in which Gutenberg works. It is overly complicated. If 100 end users of MS Word had been hired off the street on a temp basis, the developers would have gotten real time feedback on how the common end-user finds the Gutenberg experience. I am talking about REAL end-users such as the support staffers of a company who perform everyday tasks using MS Word.

Yesterday my colleague Amy Cohen exchanged emails about what is going on. She was not successful in resolving the questions many of us have about copying and pasting into the new editor. I got pushy and blunt and finally got some results that make sense. It was a tidbit but not an explanation of the entire process. This is the problem of WordPress developers and the “Happiness Engineers” who respond to our inquiries. They do not think as an End User. I took the tidbit I got from the “Happiness Engineer” and practiced until I found the scenario or sequence I think will produce a posting in one Copy & Paste operation. This tutorial is an attempt to pass it on to Amy and my other WP friends.

The comments will remain open indefinitely so we can share and update as needed.


Note: I see a defect already in that additional spaces are inserted between paragraphs. This will be mentioned in the tutorial.

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  1. Open your completed family history document in MS Word. With your mouse (or however you do it) select all the text.CTRL+A is the keyboard shortcut.Next, click CTRL+C to Copy. Or else use the menus or Toolbar icons. Whatever you usually do, get the text to your Clipboard.

gberg 2

  1. From your WordPress Dashboard, click the button to ADD the new blog post.  (THIS IS STEP 2 AND GOT RENUMBERED AS 1.  auto numbering from word is not copying over.)


  1. The Gutenberg Editor comes onscreen.THIS IS STEP 3.

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  1. The title block opens. Type in the name for your blog posting. The new word is “story”. Whatever. It is still a posting.  THIS IS STEP 4.

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  1. After you tab or click out of the Title Block, you will automatically create another block. This is indicated by the little plus sign with the circle in the left.  THIS IS STEP 5 IN THE ORIGINAL.
  1. I am not going to detail all the other drop down lists (DDLs), buttons, tabs, etc. on the screen in this posting. I still have to get familiar with where everything now is and how it is working.  THIS IS STEP 6 IN THE ORIGINAL.  NO GRAPHIC.


  1. Click the plus sign to open the icon list of features available in the Block. What you select will set the block to work with that kind of content.  THIS IS STEP 7 IN THE ORIGINAL.

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  1. Scroll down past the icons and click on the Formatting DDL.  THIS IS STEP 8 IN THE ORIGINAL.

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  1. Scroll down the icons until you find “Classic”, then click on that.  THIS IS STEP 9 IN THE ORIGINAL.
  1. The Block now changes to something with properties similar to the Classic Editor. The annoying Toolbar will now hover in the block. There is a way to move it to the top which I will figure out after reviewing the side bar to the right later on.

Click inside the “Classic Block”.

            Right click with the mouse and select paste from the menu that opens.

Do not attempt to use the keyboard CTRL+V to paste in. Gutenberg does not recognize this keyboard command.

            A prompt opens asking for permissions to access Clipboard. Click YES.

  1. The document text is copied into the Classic Block with problems:

Note that the original was double spaced between paragraphs. There are now 4 spaces between paragraphs.

Any text that was bolded in the original is not bolded in the copy to Classic Block. I did notice that a caption in Italics did copy over as formatted.

You will now have to reformat line spacing between paragraphs and re-bold what was already bolded in MS Word.

  1. To add your graphic click on the Add button (the plus sign in the circle).
  1. From the DDL, select Media.

14,       Media Gallery opens. Click Add New.

14a. Your file Upload screen opens. Select the media file from your hard drive. Then click OPEN.

15.The newly added image is now in the Gallery. Click the        INSERT button.

  1. The image is now inserted into the Classic Block. It must be edited, which I am not going to cover. Of course, for us family historians the image will be a census record or similar. This is an image for a future posting about coffee and housewive’s coffee klatsches in the 1950s. My Mom attended some and had a very small one of her own.
  1. The basic Copy and Paste operation is now completed. Remember you still have to format some text and delete the extra spaces between paragraphs.
  1. There is a SAVE link in the upper right hand corner that should be clicked on. Another big fail is that the end user does not get a confirmation of the SAVE.
  2. When I clicked this test posting the SAVE link was continually blinking. I had no indication if all this work was saved or not.
  1. While SAVE kept blinking like a theater marquee light, I clicked Preview. This is how the draft posting looks so far.

After I closed the Preview and came back to the editor screen SAVE was still blinking. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Even the little check mark next to SAVE does not reassure me this draft is saved. When an end user sees something blinking it brings to mind a warning that something is not right. This check mark plus blinking SAVE makes me uneasy.

  1. I then clicked the arrow in the left hand portion at the top of the Editor and was taken back to the postings screen.

When I clicked on the DRAFTS tab my draft was there. It had been saved.

In summary: I did not find this highly intuitive nor making much sense. I had to go through unnecessary steps to access a block that is similar to the classic editor already in use and which is much simpler overall.

What disgusts me about this change is that WordPress higher ups are forcing us to work in a way that our real-life workflows, as ordinary basic level bloggers who just want to get something done and out there, do not flow like. This is a chop, chop, chop approach to document creation. It is tedious and a bore. There is no FLOW. And many programmers and coders know what FLOW is. How they could develop something that actually discourages FLOW and encourages a nagging, insistent, ongoing adjustment to picky little details too numerous is mind baffling.

I am already looking at blogging platforms that offer a straight out editor without any templates. I do not care at all about a template and fancy designs for my blog. I want a clean white screen, an easy copy & paste. A very basic media gallery and a process that is geared to the everyday end-user. This is not.

I have discussed with Uncle Sammy and we will continue here for now. I am looking for something like 750words.com in terms of simplicity. I already have a service that will take care of the export from WordPress to another service. This is not an expensive service, either. Since exporting involves an intricate process of XMLs it can be overwhelming for the ordinary end-user. I consider the money spent for a professional service a wise investement for the safe movement of the blog to another server.

I do not want to yank the blog off and put things at risk by doing myself. This is another reason why in 2019 I will be focused on the admin side in my spare time. Again, I emphasize we can all stay in touch by email. I want this resolved as early as possible.

From the point of view of an end user I do not believe Gutenberg is ready yet for prime time.

I do not support WordPress management in their arrogance of forcing this awful editor on users.

I think the higher ups are taking an elitist, superior point of view and have not considered that the very people they claim to be making things easier for will leave the platform or just not join up at all.

I apologize for all the mistakes and grammatical errors. I do not find Gutenberg intuitive and likeable. This is how I am affected by it.

Discussion-Winter Break-Reasons for the new FAQs

I want to thank my colleagues in family history circles for reaching out to comment on the FAQs, offer constructive feedback and most of all support.

Next, I want to state that the misunderstandings are not caused by any of the subscribers from the Muro-Serrapede family lines.  I do not have these difficulties with anyone in the family.  This is coming from outside the Muro Serrapede family so please be patient.  I think it is time for me to publicly explain and open a conversation about why I do not travel extensively and need a structure in which my day has to progress.

I want to offer what happened as a way to help others that may experience the same surge of emotions and rush into going all the way by opening the door and providing a fast familiarity and access again. 

I will now recommend any newbies study the behaviors along family lines and consider if you are prepared to handle a renewed contact.   The way I am a hard-wired introvert like my late Grandpa Sam Serrapede, so these relatives are hard coded in a way that their attitudes and demands are a replay of a past generation.  Sometimes our behaviors as adults recreate the same or similar difficulties our ancestors had when relating to each other.  If you can love the person enough and they are open, there may be a way to work around those differences.  My advice is to establish your parameters and express your needs from the start. 

Now to the reason why I have to have a lot of quiet time and an orderly progression to my days:  I suffer from migraine attacjs.  Thanks to the doctors at a public clinic run by the New York City Health and Hospital Corp. I learned how to recognize the triggers and take steps to manage them at home.  The wonderful part of this is that I went off meds a private doctor had kept prescribing.  Being able to manage the condition has given me great freedom and peace of mind.  It also places limitations on me I do not mind accepting.  If I were to continue on Imitrex my liver is at risk.  Plus the med only works for up to 5 years.  Since diet, exercise, taking time for rest, reflection and long walks I am able to be more in tune with what brings the seizures on and how to immediately retreat into my home and lessen the severity. 

Prevention is the key.  there are certain stimuli I cannot handle and I need to take breaks.  I also cannot handle crowds, loud music, discos, and the stress caused by family discord.  This is one reason why I do not heavily use Twitter and Facebook.  I do not need any trolling or anger to put me into the seizure zone.

I do not travel because I have had the migraines come on while away from home.  The last time I was away one came on.  My host was not shocked or in a hurry to send me to an ER.  I slept it out and thankfully the next day could go home.  When it is severe, though, I prefer to be home.  I also want to be close to the doctor in case anything happens.  Since I have learned how to rest, and what to do when I come out, I have not had anything so severe that sends me to the ER. 

I will further some ways to heighten a sense of well-being that can go some ways to relieve discomforts and less reliance on Advil, and OTC meds it is too easy to keep using without much thought.

In the next posting I will also offer some details about how I work and why I need time to be quiet and focused.  I am not an admin carrying out routine tasks.  At my job, I have been included in team meetings that involve conceptual work.  I am involved in this process and sometimes also have to visualize the material under consideration before writing the scenarios used to test software from the end user’s point of view. 

There will be no impact on the posting schedule nor the research.  There is too much of an investment here in term of time, work and emotions. 

56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 1


Despite growing up during the Great Depression, Emily Leatrice never felt deprived. She remembered her early childhood fondly and would recount stories about the little pleasures that made her days special and life sweet.

We’ve focused on the memories and family stories Emily shared with us and round them out with additional details gathered from the readings noted in the Resources section.

–Sam Serrapede, Jr.

–EmilyAnn Frances May

Relationship Note

Emily L. Serrapede (1931-2011)  was the daughter of Sam and Josie Serrapede. She was the older sister of Gerry and Sammy. EmilyAnn knew her as “The Mom.”

 Family Story: The Little Mouse

Emily liked to be in the kitchen on Sunday mornings whenever Sam was grating a chunk of Locatelli or Romano cheese. Josie was usually at the stove heating up the tomato sauce and cooking the pasta that were part of the main meal for the day.

 As Sam grated the cheese Emily would stare at him until he stopped and asked her “Che fa? (“What’s up?”) Emily pointed to the large chunk of cheese and said one word, “Please?” Sam laughed and cut off a small piece which she took and enjoyed eating.

 In a few minutes she’d come back and stare at him again. This time he’d ask her what she wanted and she would reach over for the chunk of cheese. He’d cut another little piece and she’d go into the living room and enjoy the sharp flavor of the cheese.

 When she came back again, Sam would tell her to get out of the kitchen quick otherwise she’d turn into a mouse. Emily was not to be deterred and she’d wait for one more little piece before calling it a day. She knew that more than three times would get her into trouble.


Italian cheeses and olive oils were very expensive during the Great Depression. Since food preparation linked the family to their own culture and ancestral country many Italian families went without newer clothing or shoes just to make sure the quality of the traditional dietary items was the best they could get. This might be one of the reasons why Sam carefully measured out the size of the slices of cheese he would give Emily.

Continue reading “56a-Serrapede Family in America-A Depression Era Childhood-Little Treats, Part 1”

Mother’s Day 2018

Roses Mother's Day 2018

On Mother’s Day we remember
our Mothers, Grandmothers , Great Grandmothers and all the matriarchs of the
Serrapede, Muro and Aiello Families
especially our Emily Leatrice., Josie, Rose, Letizia, and Emilia.
With love, gratitude and thanksgiving.
We wish all our family and friends a day of happiness and recollection as we recall all
the goodness, strength, encouragement and life-giving power of the love our Mothers
gave us.
–Sam Serrapede, Jr.
–EmilyAnn Frances May
Public domain Victorian era image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy


53b-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Baptism, December 1931

Relationship Notes

Emily Serrapede is featured in this posting. She was the daughter of Sam and Josie (nee Muro) Serrapede, older sister of Gerald and Sammy, and EmilyAnn’s Mother.


In 1930 Sam and Josie were married at the Church of St. Rosalia. The church was built on 14th Avenue and 65th Street. When their daughter Emily Leatrice was born in 1931 they were living in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn. Six months later she was baptized at St. Rosalia’s Church where the family moved before  Emily was Baptized. As young parents, Sam and Josie needed the help and companionship of their relatives and paesanos, most who lived in Dyker Heights. This was a good move. Their daughter grew up in the company of her cousins, many who became her best friends.

The Baptismal Certificate

53b-Mom Baptism Cert 5

Baptismal Certificate for Emily Serrapede.

Although her birth certificate had her official name as Emily, the Baptismal Certificate bears her name in Italian. Emilia Pappalardo Serrapede was her paternal Grandmother. This might have been a custom observed in the immigrant community. The official record has the English version of the name and the baptismal name is in Italian. Josie and Sam followed this practice with their son Jerry.

Continue reading “53b-Serrapede Family in America-Emily Leatrice’s Baptism, December 1931”