I saw "The Big Sleep"

What I saw: “The Big Sleep,” at home, on our big screen
What I wore: jeans and a cardigan
What I did beforehand: ate pizza that was delivered

The original of this image is in the public domain

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, my youngest child, both dogs and the cat, Schwartz (he is a big fan of film noir)
How I got tickets: the Bacon Provider streamed it using Vudu on his laptop and airplaying it to our projector; this movie is not available for streaming on Netflix or Hulu, can be rented from Amazon streaming but the website required a Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in and we weren’t sure Airplay would work.
Why I saw this show: my youngest child and I just finished the audiobook, which we enjoyed for its crackling dialog, steady action, and crafty (if not consistently tidy) plotting.
Where I sat: on the couch with Captain and Schwartz and my youngest
Things that were sad: the amount of time it took to figure out how to watch the movie

Things that were funny: seeing for ourselves how well Bogart portrayed Raymond Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe, watching some of our favorite lines uttered on screen
Things that were not funny: Because this movie was made after Bogart and Bacall had thrilled audiences in “To Have and To Have Not,” Lauren Bacall’s character was expanded and added to a number of extra scenes, to nonsensical effect.

What it is: a classic movie
Who should see it: fans of Raymond Chandler, or Humphrey Bogart, or Lauren Bacall, or mysteries with unexplained loose ends, or old movies

What I saw on the way home: When we turned on the lights, I discovered a huge, engorged tick on Captain’s belly. It is mid-February, and while it may be 2° F outside, it hasn’t stopped the ticks.

All the Kinds of Tape

Space Tape

Electrical tape, masking tape.
Double-stick tape.
Duct tape. Adhesive tape. Clear tape. Packing tape. Strapping tape.
Marine grade vinyl tape. Self-adhesive tape.
Sandwich tape. Cake tape. Sushi tape. Flower tape. Rehab Tape.
Creepy Tape.
Hair Tape, that makes the up-do you envision stick together.
Stop Texting Me Tape.
Special treasure tape.
Endangered species tape.
Hard to articulate ideas tape.
Tape that holds people together. 
Tape that keeps your pants up. 
Tape that holds ideas together.
Tape that tells good jokes.
Tape that keeps the old dog from dying.
Tape that makes this easier to read.
Tape for re-sealing the yogurt container because you changed your mind.
Tape that changes the weather.
Tape that keeps pollutants out of the drinking water.
Second Chance Tape.
Tape that reminds people that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner.
Tape that plays your favorite song when you really need to hear your favorite song.
Jewelry tape.
Resume tape (makes your random life experiences seem like there is a point!).
Tape for making outfits match even though they don’t really match.
Tape that inserts this story:
The next day, I gave the Bacon Provider a ride to his appointment, and went back to the closed fabric store for a second time.
They were closed again.
The sign said they should be open, but the door was locked, and the lights were off. I sat down on a bench on the corner and considered my options.
I heard a slight noise and a dark blur dashing into the store.
Rising and walking to the threshold, I peered in: dark with the door now wide open. The tiny fabric shop had shelves stuffed full of fabric bolts, and an uneven fence of upholstery fabrics, on rolls, all the way around the shop. 
I stepped in hesitantly. One fluorescent light flickered to life, and then another. I kept my eyes in an active scan of the topmost shelves, where I saw a variety of charming modern cotton fabrics. There was barely room to snake through the store and see everything and turn around without toppling over the long bolts. I stumbled over a set of drawers containing buttons. Another bank of lights came on.
Behind the counter, a woman made a phone call, inquiring about the possibility of getting more indigo batiks. “We could sell a lot of those,” she said into the phone, repeating it a couple of times. “Everybody’s looking for indigo batiks.”
I considered; I would be interested in some indigo batiks. My mother really liked them, too.
The woman in the shop had long black hair, scattered with white threads of gray, and eyebrows, drawn on, in two straight lines. I busied myself at the sale shelf, beginning to fret about the duration of my paid parking out front. I found a Japanese import, navy with small gray rabbits, and a bolt end that was promising, and carried my armload to the cutting table.
I had her attention, and described the yardages I wanted.
Suddenly there was another woman, exactly the same as the first, the same black hair with white threads of gray. Same drawn on eyebrows, in two straight lines. Did she walk in behind me? Materialize behind the counter? Emerge from under the table? There were two of them, a matched set. They cut at the same time, with two pairs of matching, very-sharp scissors, half-way across the width of the bolt in a fluid motion ending with a snip, and then turning it over and repeating. Synchronized.
I left with a hand-written receipt. I don’t know which one wrote it.
Tape that gives stories a point.
Rage prevention Tape.
Tape that makes a person tell the truth.
Tape that settles debts.
Tape that makes amends.
Tape that keeps the tank full.
Tape that brings back the dead.
Tape that gives you credit for the work no one ever acknowledged.
Tape to tape the shimmy and groan out of the elevator.
Tape that fixes broken furniture.
Vacation plans tape.
Tape that reminds you of the better qualities of people.
Invincible tape.
Relationship tape.
Tape for easing the pain of betrayal.
Tape for putting ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Excessive cleavage tape.
Bathrobe tape.
Experimental tape.
Do-over tape.
Tape for regrets.
Better Decisions Tape.
Gerrymandering tape.
Subway fare tape.
Decorative tape for creating ironic ambiance.
Tape for droughts.
Tape that makes an argument make sense.

Tape tape.

Still Yet Another Absolutely True and Completely Unexpected Message #2

Dear Sir,
On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria FGN/ Presidency and the Federal minister of Finance (FMF), I wish to bring to your knowledge that the Federal Government of Nigeria FGN, have decided to bring a lasting solution to all long delayed payments. We have received a lot of complains from different Countries saying that the Nigerian Government refused to release their payment and we want to correct that impression. Right now the Federal Government of Nigeria has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to offset every payment owed all the foreign beneficiaries through Atm-Card and it will be monitored by me to ensure accurate and decent delivery to every beneficiary to avoid any hitch. This method of payment has been tested
and confirmed as the fastest and safest means of paying foreign beneficiaries their money. I am Her Excellency, Mrs. Patience Dame Goodluck representing the Federal Government of Nigeria/Presidency to make the announcement for 2013 payment.
The Federal minister of Finance (FMF) in joint venture with the Central Bank of Nigeria, will commence action immediately we hear from you.
President, Jonathan Ebele Goodluck (GCFR) my (husband), has made funds available through our FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL, just to make absolutely sure that the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN offset all debts. We have the official list of all the beneficiaries whose names are listed down. Now we are getting in touch to all the beneficiaries who have not received email regarding their payment. Please do not inconvenience us if you have received your payment. But if you have not, kindly contact us back in your return mail with your full information for immediate action, this was the order given to me by Mr. President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (my husband) & the Honorable Minister for Finance. Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
Mrs. Patience Goodluck,

Her Excellency, First Lady Federal Republic of Nigeria,

I started laughing after, “Dear Sir,” and had to collect myself after seeing, “Nigeria,” in the first line. I wonder if there is some sort of scam inside Nigeria where people are taught how to make these mass emails at some cost to themselves.

I might also point out that if you set an automatic “out-of-office” reply on your work email, you will automatically reply to any incoming messages of this kind. 

Mostly, I wonder who does reply to these, and how the fraudsters benefit.

Lastly, if you enjoy these kinds of posts, you can check out others here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Cat Panic 3: Revenge of the Bureaucrats

Yesterday I made my (almost) daily visit to the local post office.  I found a letter in my box that was intended for the box next door, and stood in line for a while, waiting to hand it to a staff member.  I am always alarmed by mis-delivered mail, viewing it as a sign that things just aren’t as reliable as they should be. The woman ahead of me in line was trying to mail a greeting card in a square envelope. It was carefully addressed in her large, loopy cursive, and she had chosen a decorative stamp and applied it in the corner. Because of its unusual dimensions, it was going to require 20¢ extra postage. The customer produced a plastic bag full of a large number and variety of carefully organized postage stamps from her purse and explained to the clerk that she had 5¢ stamps, but felt there was not enough room for them on the envelope.
The clerk looked in the stamp drawer (which is no longer at the counter but is instead somewhere in the back and off to the side) for a 20¢ stamp to sell her, but they had none. They also had no 10¢ stamps, so four 5¢ stamps was her only choice. Together, the clerk and the customer placed the stamps in the remaining space in the upper left hand corner of the envelope. Then, the clerk hand-cancelled the envelope with two rubber-stamps.
Next, I drove over to the local UPS store to send my youngest son’s clothes to summer camp. I was greeted cheerfully by a staff member as I walked in.  The cheerful clerk took my heavy boxes from me and struck up a conversation with me about the retailers whose boxes I had used and about summer camp and about how long it might take the packages to get there.  Customers are listed within UPS’s database by their phone number, and the process is so quick and confidence-inspiring that it was not until I was driving away that I had time to reflect on the contrast to the post office.
Right before we moved in to the Big Red Barn, I was strong-armed told by the belligerent detail-oriented listing agent to apply for a post office box instead of using the mailbox at the top of our drive way. Her argument was, “Yes, you need to.”
The post office in this community is staffed by grouchy detail-oriented people who send back any mail addressed to our street address rather than the post office box number. In large grease pencil they write: NO RECEPTICLE (or sometimesNO RECEPTACLE). The post office is approximately two miles away from our house, which makes it just far enough away not to be a walking destination. It also has a lot of signage about allowing no dogs except service dogs, about the special penalty for robbing a post office, about their brief hours of operation, and about their rates for various sizes of boxes for their state-of-the-artslow shipping.
The mailbox that is/isn’t at the top of the driveway
If you come to visit the Big Red Barn, you can find our driveway between our trash hutch and our non-existent mailbox. If you open our non-existent mailbox, you will find a single letter to a former tenant and several receipts for filling the propane tanks last December. I look in there all the time, just to see if anything happened. If I had a large rubber spider I might want to put it in there when we move out in September.
Within 24 hours of my cat-bite, I had been contacted by Beth at the Westchester County Health Department, who left me a message saying she wanted me to know that they have a process she wanted to explain to me.  We then played phone tag for about a day. When we did have a conversation, Beth told me that as the pet owner I was going to be receiving a letter from the health department which I needed to fill out and return after a 10 day quarantine. She may have described the letter as “harsh,” or even “threatening,” and she assured me it was for public safety.
 There is really nothing funny about rabies, or the possibility of people getting rabies. Even though my cat is now and has always been an “indoor-only” pet, I have always kept him current on all of the recommended vaccines, including rabies.  I am aware of various educated and otherwise law-abiding people in this country who do not vaccinate their pets and/or children based on some sort of logic that common vaccines cause bad things to happen to them.  I don’t know what to say about that kind of thinking other than to wonder about how science is taught in this country.
I do marvel at Beth’s job: she gets to send out a letter to people that is so threatening that she needs to pre-empt it with a friendly phone call. In my case, the post office never delivered my letter, because it was addressed to our physical address and not our post office box. I had the forms emailed to me.
Here are the three emails I received:

Just print out the attached documents. I will call you on 5/31 to check on Schwartz’s health status. Beth
Maggie…was able to print out. I am closing this case..Beth


Another story my mother told involved the disappearance of a hamster.  Long after he vanished, she was to make the discovery of the home the renegade hamster had made in six or seven inches of fancy dress clothes hung together in a garment bag; he had drilled a perfectly straight, hamster-sized hole through the shoulder of each garment.  My mother liked to tell that story.  Sometimes she would embellish with details of finding a skeleton, but I do not think that was true. This story is the only reason I have any memory of the hamster; I do not remember the animal’s name.