I finally got ALMOST what I wanted with my Blog transformation into the Thesis theme. I was able to duplicate my Pages/SubPages display preferences by using Widget Logic, which gave me a way to display any widget based on conditional statements.
What I want to find now (or learn to understand) is to display or not display entire sidebars (because if I remove all the widgets from a sidebar, the sidebar width stays. (thought: maybe CSS could let me change width to 0 if there is no content in the sidebar).
I also installed Intense Debate for commenting, believing that it had the ability to auto approve previously approved comments that had been submitted via Twitter or Facebook. Another developer had recommended Intense Debate when asked about a third party login solution for auto-approving previously approved users. I found that Intense Debate does not yet do this. They (Intense Debate") say they are working on this.