Informed Delivery by USPS

Have you signed up for Informed Delivery by USPS? It's a new service that allows you to see the mail that will be arriving in your mailbox that day. An automated system scans letter sized mail (and postcards) and adds them to your dashboard online and/or sends you an email with the scans. I am assuming this is the same system that sorts the mail. Right now it is only available in a few areas – I am fortunate that Seattle was one of those.

It works great. Every morning I receive an email with a gray scale scan (the postcard in the image is cardboard so that is why it is dark – white envelopes will appear white). If I do not receive a piece of mail. I simply click a button to mark it not received. I'm still not clear what is done with that information, but I am hoping that my postcards will not pile up for weeks anymore (long story, but in 2014 all of my Christmas swap postcards were “held” for 3 weeks and then all delivered together after I called the post office several times – it was abou 40 postcards!)

I can see several benefits –

  • accountability for mail carriers
  • hopefully an aide in preventing identity theft (you can notify the sender right away if the letter wasn't delivered)
  • and for some households, avoid lost mail (like when someone else picks up the mail and forgets to put it on your desk…)

I'm curious if you have tried it and what your thoughts are about it. Let me know in the comments!

Movies with a mail, postcard or letter writing theme



Looking for a movie to watch that is mail themed?  Here is a list of movies that I found that have a prominent letter writing, postcard, or postal service theme.  I separated by genre to make them easier to find.  Click on the link for my review of the movie (these will be updated periodically)

Oldies (1959 & earlier)
Retro (1960-79)

Continue reading →

Movie Review – Bright Star

Bright StarBright Star
directed by Jane Campion

Bright Star is historical eye-candy.  It follows the love story of Fanny Brawne and John Keats between 1818-21.  Keats (Ben Wishaw) is the hopelessly romantic poet who falls in love with Brawne (Abbie Cornish), an eighteen year old with a talent for fashion design and needlework.  The flirtation and development of the inevitable affair is impeded by Keats’ poverty and hinderance of his friend, Charles Brown (Paul Schneider) .

Unless you are aware of the biography of Keats or Brawne, the story is unpredictible.  Cornish and Wishaw play the young lovers so well, it is hard to believe that you aren’t living in the era before electricity and sewing machines.  Brawne’s wardrobe is to die for.  Keats is more passionate than a book of poetry.  The English countryside, manors, and gardens are beautiful.  The sound of Keats’ fountain pen scribbling love letters to Brawne can make any heart melt.

Clearly I loved the movie, perfect for a rainy night with a warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea (I recommend Christmas in Paris from Stash – kind of chocolate mint, YUM!)

IMDB gave it a 7.0 out of 10.  I give it an 8.5

Movie Review – The Extraordinary Tale

The Extraordinary Tale

The Extraordinary Tale
Directed by Laura Alvea and Jose F. Ortuño
available on Hoopla

The story of a girl that lives by herself who types letters to strangers that never reply. After 1,212 letters (one every day), she finally gets a reply from a boy who is living a similarly isolated life. They type letters back and forth to each other until one day the boy gets brave enough to ask to meet her in person. They meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Even though the premise of the movie simple, the movie is anything but. First of all the cinematography is beautiful. The set colors are trendy – both surreal and bohemian. The costumes are French bohemian, DIY chic. In the 1980s every twenty-something wanted to live in an old brick warehouse, but every 2010’s twenty-something would want to live in this apartment.

The story is quirky, funny and cute. It is easy to connect and sympathise with “She” and “He”. The story arc goes through every emotion flawlessly and takes the viewer along for the ride. She is content living on her own writing letters, although lonely. Then She is happy to have a new friend, although anxious and nervous. He makes her extremely happy, and then they fall in love. Then He gets a job and she gets pregnant. I will stop there so I don’t give away any spoilers. What I will say, is that you will not be able to predict the story. It is new and fresh. Even the ending is not what you expect.

I loved the characters. I cringed when she cringed, I wanted to comfort her when she was scared, and I wanted to give her a break when she was overwhelmed.

IMDB gave it a 6.1 out of 10, but but I give it 9.

Movie Review – Up the Down Staircase

Up the Down Staircase

Up the Down Staircase
Directed by Robert Mulligan
available on Amazon Prime

The story unfolds over the first three months of the school year at New York inner-city Calvin Coolidge High School. This is Sylvia Barrett’s (Sandy Dennis) first job. Barrett has problems balancing obedience of the adminstration’s bureaucracy and responsibility of teaching the not-so-dedicated students.

It’s like a fast moving traffic jam, if that makes sense. The disrespect of the students, bureaucracy of the administration, and anxiety of a rookie teacher make for a world for of chaos, learning, and defiance.

Although the book is written in epistolary form, the movie is not. The script writers have also taken liberties to change the plot to make it faster moving and more “compelling”. I thought it lost a little of the original flavor of the original story, and it eliminated the connection with the letter-writing / mail theme.

IMDB gave it a 7.6 out of 10. I give it a 5.0 – read the book instead.