1. If you are one of the three people who has been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that recent posts include a “Source” link under the picture captions. This is because, after a conversation with a family member who happens to be a lawyer, I began to question my hitherto somewhat laissez-faire attitude towards pictures, and towards classical (by which I mean “painted probably in Europe between 1000 and 1900 A.D.”) artwork in particular. Apparently (contrary to Wikipedia’s blithe assurances) just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s legally showing up in your web searches. Fortunately for me, the Met recently decided to declare much of its collection public domain. To view, go here, scroll down for the options on the left, under “Show Only” make sure to select “Public Domain Artworks,” and proceed to enjoy legal use of images of everything from Greek pottery to Dutch masters to random bits of armor—just make sure that you source the images back to the Met.
2. I have discovered the (a?) secret to not going over budget: Don’t buy anything until after you’ve run out. No, seriously. You don’t need plastic wrap. Or cooking spray. Or a new rug for the bottom of the stairs down which your toddler is threatening to tumble. Cavemen didn’t have plastic wrap, and they survived just fine. OK, but seriously, there probably are alternatives in your house to almost anything that you might happen to run out of. And if you run out of it first, you might discover that some of these alternatives are actually cheaper than you thought, and work just as well … Even if you decide to go back to your precious canisters of Pam, however, the trick of not buying until you run out should enable you to make it to the end of the month without crossing the red line when you’ve already maxed out your “household goods” column.
3. I am sure this does not apply to all children and all ages, but if you are a new mom of a non-walker, let me promise you: some things do get a easier when they learn how to walk. Yes, they’ll get into everything. Yes, they’ll want to climb your couches, chairs, bookshelves, piano, and any other platforms more than .5 square feet broad and three inches high (“platform” being defined loosely, of course, to include such objects as Christmas trees and bags of fruit). Yes, they’ll whine for those just-out-of-reach items until you drill it into them that they can’t have everything they see (and drill it into yourself that sometimes substitution or removal of the desired object is prudent). But don’t children whine for and destroy things before they walk too? And once they can walk, they can play sooooo much more easily—and hence happily. On the whole, a worthwhile tradeoff, n’est pas?
4. In world news, Hawaii’s random false nuclear warning last week was not the first such incident. (In fact, there are several stories of nuclear near-misses, as you’ll find if you google for more information about the 1960 Thule event.)
5. Meanwhile, the other kind of nuclear power—the power plant kind—is losing in California, winning in Minnesota, and providing interesting environmental benefits, even if you ask sincerely concerned environmentalists.
6. Alright, alright, since we walked down this road, we’ll go all the way: Yes Prime Minister - Bernard Woolley on defence capabilities.
7. And for a lighter sort of button game, which might perhaps be useful at your January Christmas parties … Remember that line in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, “Button, button, who’s got the button?”
8. Finally, a bonus take, in the form of a reminder that if cavemen don’t need buttons, neither do you. Unless, of course, you’re still under budget for the month.