Posts Tagged 'online auction'

Just Like Mall Wart, except…. [Updated]

Bumper sticker with dark blue letters on white background, type face the same as Wal-Mart's. Says Mall Wart, Your source for cheap plastic crap.

It's a good beginning.

My PCA used to have many excellent, snark-intensive bumper stickers on her truck. This was one of my favorites. However, I don’t think it’s entirely fair. It’s a little misleading.

It really should say, “Mall-Wart: Your source for cheap plastic crap, which also

  • Uses slave labor in other countries for outsourced goods
  • Violates the Clean Water Act in multiple US states and otherwise engages in practices egregiously harmful to the environment and dangerous to the consumer
  • Exploits its workers
  • Busts unions
  • Systematically and intentionally puts small businesses out of work
  • Participate in racist employment practices
  • Has been sued repeatedly for Americans with Disabilities Act violations, such as not allowing people with disabilities accompanied by assistance dogs into their stores
  • Is owned by people who each make over $18 billion annually, lobby conservative elected officials, but donate less than one percent of their income to charity.” (By comparison, Bill Gates donates over 50 percent of his income to charity.)

But that would make for a really, really long bumper sticker, don’tcha think?

Anyway, why, you may wonder, am I writing a totally random post about Wal-Mart? Well, partly it’s because it’s evil, and I like to raise awareness about the depth, breadth, and sprawl of their evilness. You’d be hard-pressed to find any form of despicable activity — human rights abuses, animal rights abuses, environmental destruction, trade practices bad for US interests, etc. — that they don’t participate in. Where am I getting these facts? From this extremely long list of facts and their sources about Wal-Mart’s illegal and unethical practices. (Except for the ADA and service dog stuff; I just know about that from my involvement with disability rights activism.)

You can learn all this and more, in entertaining, heart-breaking detail, by watching the documentary: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price on a DVD that you rent or purchase, or for free online!

So, back to the reason I’m writing this now. The reason is that I have been promoting the auction that I have helped organize, Marlena’s Teaching Fund, and it’s down to its last 30 hours or so. We are having a big sale to try to get as much donated as possible when this comes down tomorrow at midnight.

Thus, I have slashed prices! I have encouraged people to spend! And bargain-hunt! And obtain!

I have been relentlessly posting on Facebook and Tweet-spamming, such that I think everyone will unfollow or unfriend or block me. And I’m talking about how many, many items and services are still available, and how “there’s something for everyone,” that I was thinking, “My God, I’ve turned into some sort of Mall-Wart-esque monster!” Aieee!

But then, I remembered, no.

For one thing, this little shindig is actually an offering of gifts by people who want to contribute to someone’s (or a group of someones’) well-being. And much of this stuff is stuff that people have but don’t want or need, so it’s being repurposed, recycled, not going into the landfill. And a lot of this stuff was handcrafted, by people who did it with love, not sweatshop labor.

Actually, I have learned a lot from this experience. I have gotten the opportunity to connect with and meet some really awesome people. I think it has served many useful purposes and contributed to meeting the needs of many people. So, overall, I’m very glad of my involvement.

I am not Mall-Wart. I am still me. And hopefully Betsy will help me create a spreadsheet so my head doesn’t explode when I try to match item donors, winner bidders, mailing addresses, donations made or to be expected, etc., when this all comes down tomorrow. (Or maybe I’ll just crawl into Barnum’s crate and put my head in my arms and rock myself and hope that people will telepathically figure out who to contact and what to mail, etc.)

Or maybe one of you reading this is good at spreadsheets and has some spare time in the next day or two? Heh heh heh heeeeeeeeeeeee. . . ?

So, I guess this is a request for help, which really was not my intention when I started this post, but there it is — life takes you in unexpected directions, and for me, these directions are often found while blogging. My requests:

1. If you have bid on the auction and won one or more items, starting Sunday night or Monday morning, please check your email (including spam folder) and/or your blog comments — or whatever you gave for your contact info — or contact me yourself, because I have already not heard from two people I’ve tried to contact where there were questions about their bidding, and I feel quite anxious about not being able to connect to everyone who bid.

2. If you know of anyone who has bid, please pass along the note above, in case you have more reachable contact info for them than I do.

3. If you haven’t bid on anything, go check it out. There really is some amazingly cool stuff there, and some unbelievable bargains. I really did go and mark everything down that had not yet been bid on.

4. If you bid on stuff, check to see if you were outbid. If you were, and you want whatever that stuff was, bid it up.

5. If you are in any way able to help me with the adding up of sums or creation of spreadsheets or email of people who donated items or made winning bids, please contact me! (If you know my phone number or email, use that. Otherwise you can use this private form.)

Finally, to paraphrase Trillian from that most remarkable book, The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, “[This blog] will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you.”

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD/SDiT (We have some cool training stories to share; I just haven’t yet finished any of the blogs I’ve started recently.)

UPDATE: The kind and talented Kat of Join the Club! created a google docs form/database/embeddable thingy which we think I’ll be able to have winning bidders fill out with their contact info. This will make my job MUCH easier (if it works). So, some help has already been given, and I am very grateful!

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Signal Boost: Working Dog Eye Exams

For the fifth year in a row, during the month of May, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) will offer free eye exams to working assistance dogs in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This is called the ACVO/Merial National Service Animal Eye Event.

This is not as straightforward as it might seem. Exams are not just for assistance dogs for people with disabilities (guide, hearing, and service dogs). Therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, and police dogs are also eligible. Certain working horses are eligible, too. To take part, the handler/owner or agency responsible for the dog must register.

However, if your working assistance animal was trained by their partner or by a private trainer, and not a school or program, it’s unclear whether the program is open to you.

The informational site says, on its “Who is eligible?” page:

Dogs must be active ‘working dogs’ that were certified by a formal training program or organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program to qualify. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Essentially the dogs need to have some sort of certification and/or training paperwork to qualify for this particular this program.

Apparently, in the past a few people tried to pass off pets as working dogs; thus this program is pretty clearly defined as “for program dogs only.” If you’re a partner-trainer, you can still speak to your local veterinary ophthalmologist and ask if they can give you any sort of discount. When I spoke to mine, and he found out I have a bouvier des Flandres in training as my service dog, he agreed to provide a free exam, in part because glaucoma is a genetic problem in bouviers. I was really touched by his generosity. I hadn’t expected that. I hope to set up our appointment in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, if you are in the San Francisco/Berkeley/Bay area of California and you would like your private- or partner-trained SDiT or assistance dog (or pet dog, cat, rabbit, horse, lizard, etc.), to receive a comprehensive eye exam from a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, you are in luck! A complete eye exam has been donated to Marlena’s Teaching Fund by Animal Eye Care of California’s East Bay.

It is not free, but it does offer two major bonuses that you would not get if you made an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist under other circumstances:

1. You’ll get the exam at a substantial discount. The standard fee for this service is $226. The minimum starting bid we’re asking is $70. That’s a discount of over two-thirds!

2. You will be supporting a very worthwhile cause — assisting a person with disabilities to cover her own medical costs and pay for her dog’s food, which will help her to continue to teach the Nonviolent Communication teleclasses that I and my friends with disabilities and chronic illnesses attend.

Please share these links around. Share the ACVO/Merial link with program-trained assistance dog teams. And if you know any animal lovers in the Bay area of California, please share this link with them. Thank you!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (whose first lymphoma sign was a red eye), and Barnum, SD/SDiT

Feeding Two (or Twenty?) Birds with One Hand

Some twenty years ago, my friend Linda introduced me to the expression, “Feeding two birds with one hand.” I really like this expression. Not only is it kinder than “killing two birds with one stone,” but it’s more evocative. I can actually picture holding my hand out, full of bird seed, and having two birds land on it, whereas not only do I have no desire to imagine killing two birds with a stone, I really don’t know how you’d go about it if you wanted to.

So today’s post is about what I’ve been doing when I’m not here posting, and how this is an opportunity to bring diverse aspects of my life together and feed multiple birds — after all, I have two hands, so I should be able to feed at least four birds!

Many of my faithful readers know that over the last three months I have been working on a fundraiser for my Nonviolent Communication (NVC) teacher, Marlena. Marlena’s Teaching Fund takes the form of an online auction, which starts right this very instant coffee!

Bird 1 – Connection & Contribution

What’s great about this auction? It gives me an opportunity to give back and contribute in a meaningful way to someone who has made a huge difference in my life.

I’ve also gotten to “meet” a lot of wonderful people — friends of Marlena’s or friends of my NVC friends — who donated items to the auction. It feels good to be part of something where people are coming together in a spirit of generosity and love. Nothing to be sad about there!

Picture of a mourning dove on snowy, pebbly ground with lots of sunflower seed hulls around it.

It may be called a "mourning dove," but I was happy to get this picture of it looking at me.

Bird 2 – Increasing Access to Fragrance-Free & Nontoxic Products

Some of my most commented-upon posts here at After Gadget have been those in which I’ve discussed my MCS and/or how fragranced products affect me. Many of you, my beloved readers, have gone in search of nontoxic, fragrance-free products — for your own health, for the access and safety of those with chemical sensitivities around you, and in solidarity with me. This has been so surprising and touching for me!

I also know that many of you have limited budgets, maybe not much access to trying out different products, or live outside the US, which sometimes means different brands than I know about. I am pleased to announce that there are several small, family owned businesses (many of them owned and run by people with MCS) that make nontoxic, fragrance-free products who have donated products or gift certificates to Marlena’s auction! Some of them will ship outside the US! You can test out MCS-safer products while also helping out an MCSer! Check out these listings! (For those who want an inexpensive way to test out several fragrance-free products, I suggest the Magick Botanicals trial/travel kit.)

Hairy woodpecker pecking at suet in a suet feeder on  small tree.

Hunting and pecking for the safe products in the scented aisles of a store? That can get downright hairy!

Bird 3 – Simplifying & Digging Out

I have too much stuff. My house is full of stuff! Stuff collects dust and mold and dander, all of which I’m allergic to. It gets in the way and leaves less room to maneuver my chair. But some of this stuff is perfectly good stuff. Stuff I can’t use, but that someone else could enjoy — brand-new books I was given but can’t read because I can’t read print books. Snarky posters I got as freebies when the company I ordered from messed up my order. Unused nontoxic/natural lip balm with peppermint oil in it. Inkjet office supplies I bought, forgetting that I now have a laser printer. It will feel great if I can give this stuff a new home.

Male red-bellied woodpecker digs suet out of a feeder with his long open beak.

This red-bellied woodpecker is chipping away at the fat, digging out. Inspiring!

Bird 4 – Bird Feeder as Blog Fodder?

I’m never short on ideas for blogs. In fact, my “Posts” folder has almost as many drafts as published posts, and that doesn’t even include all the posts I have in my head that I want to write! Still, now that I’m doing something with a deadline (the auction is only up for ten days), something I’ve invested so much time and energy in, something that’s so important to me, it pushes me to crank out a post to share with the world.

This gives me opportunities, such as to use several of my recent winter bird photos without writing the perfect Birding Thursday post.

I can carry myself with pride . . .

Tote bag in black and yellow that says Pride in big yellow letters on a black background.

This snazzy tote bag is made from recycled bird seed bags!

in taking an old idea like a signal boost and creatively transforming it into something new and different.

Colorful tote bag made from bird seed bags, includes a bright red cardinal sitting on a branch, and a sunflower at the base of the bag.

This tote bag is also upcycled from bird seed bags.

To think outside the box as a blogger . . .

Top of treasure box has head and shoulders of a brown hawk with red wings. There are feathers on teh side of the box.

This is quite some outside of a box!

can give me several different perspectives on something, depending on how I look at it.

A fabric-covered box. The top shows a blue jay in a green leafy tree with a blue feather attached to it, and the side shows a gorgeous white ibis about to take off over stormy waters.

Or how it looks at me....

It’s true that the tone of this post has been tongue-in-cheek and my objective transparent. Nonetheless, I am still appreciative of the seed Linda planted all those years ago of this kinder, gentler way to speak and act, which is part of the work of NVC, for me.

Especially because Linda remains one of my nearest and dearest friends. She’s the one who told me about Marlena’s NVC classes. Taking them together has deepened and strengthened our friendship. Maybe one of you will get to meet her, too?

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and a bored and demanding Barnum, SD/SDiT/hindrance dog

Quick Update: Auction Moved to March

The feedback we’ve gotten is that people need more time to get item listings to us. So, we’ve pushed back the fundraiser for my NVC teacher a month (in part not to conflict with L-Squared’s auction). Marlena’s Teaching Fund auction is now scheduled to go up Friday, MARCH 9.

This means we’ll need to get all item listings by Sunday, MARCH 4.

Thank you very much for your help! All the other information from the previous post about Marlena’s Teaching Fund auction remains the same. Thank you for your help!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, bored and “neglected” SDiT (Why are you always staring at the glowing box?”

Seeking Auction Donations

I’ve written occasionally here and at my other blogs about my study of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for the last year-and-a-half. I’ve written here about NVC being the major factor in being able to grieve Gadget, and spending the Jewish New Year with my NVC friends, and on how NVC has changed how I communicate about grief. I’ve blogged about it much less than I have wanted to, however. Partly, this is for the usual reasons I blog less about everything than I want or expect to — I’m sick, I’m training my own service dog, I trying to write when able.

But there are other reasons. One is that since that life-changing international NVC phone call at the beginning of October, I am trying to attend as many NVC practice groups and classes as I can. (Note: Whenever I refer to attending NVC classes, they are always by telephone — conference calls.) Although this has absorbed energy — the time spent on the calls and then the time recovering — they give me so much. I feel a new sense of peace, calm, and happiness and an ability to have compassion for myself and others that I didn’t have before.

I actually had wanted to take NVC classes several years ago, but they were offered in a space that was up a flight of stairs and not MCS-accessible. Then I found an NVC teacher who has created an option for NVC classes that are financially and physically, mentally, and emotionally accessible to people with disabilities.

Meet Marlena

The person most responsible for this change in my life is my NVC teacher, Marlena Willis. Marlena lives with both mental health disabilities and physical disabilities, including MCS. A couple of years ago, she decided to offer NVC teleclasses to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. We became a tight-knit community, most of us living with multiple disabilities, often homebound, and struggling with very difficult situations.

Read what Marlena’s students say about how her classes have changed our lives.

Because she wanted to make sure that anyone who wanted to learn could attend, Marlena offered the classes on a sliding scale and said that nobody would be turned away for lack of funds. Most of us have been able to pay little — much, much less than what Marlena’s time and skill are worth to us — and some have been unable to spare anything for tuition.

Marlena laying on her back in bed. A black-and-tan short-haired large-breed older puppy -- maybe part Doberman or Rottweiler -- wearing a pink collar is licking her from her chin to her eyebrow. Marlena's eyes are closed and her hand rests on the dog's chest.

Marlena's dog loves her as much as her students do!

In the last few months, Marlena has entered financial crisis. This was the result of several unexpected medical expenses not covered by Medicare or MediCal, plus the unexpected expenses of her rescued dog and cat, who are very important to her mental health. For this reason, Marlena’s students are doing a fundraiser for her, which I’m organizing. We are doing it as an online auction. I would so much appreciate your help in making Marlena’s Teaching Fund auction a success so that Marlena can get the dental work done that she needs and continue to teach the NVC classes that mean so much to me and my dear friends.

Find out more about Marlena (my interview with her) here.

If you would enjoy contributing to the success of the auction, here are some ways to help!

  • Donate an item to auction. This is the most useful and important thing we need right now. It can be any item, product, or service that someone else would enjoy. Even if you think you don’t have much to offer, you probably do! I have more notes about this below. Please keep reading!
  • Spread the word! Follow me on Twitter at @aftergadget and retweet my auction-related tweets, or share my posts on your Facebook page.
  • Ask friends, family, social or business networks to donate an item. Do you know someone who has a business, either online, like an etsy shop, or anything else, who would appreciate some publicity while giving something small that will make a big difference in someone’s life? Ask them to donate a service or item.
  • “Like” the Marlena’s Teaching Fund Facebook page! Before the auction starts, we can use it to organize and gather info on items to be auctioned. When the fundraiser is underway, we’ll use it to post updates or feature certain items or list quotes from how Marlena has changed lives.
  • Link to this post. Offer a signal boost. You also have my permission to cross-post this post as long as you attribute it to me and link back here. And you’ll probably want to write some sort of introduction so people know you’re not me!

What Items Can Be Auctioned?

All sorts of things! They can be tangible goods or they can be services. Below are some categories of things we can really use.

  • Unique or beautiful things: Jewelry, photos, artwork, hand-crafted items, specialty or homemade foods (that travel well), films, music, or books donated and signed by the artist/author, tickets to sports/theater/exhibits.
  • Useful things: Dog or cat toys or products, clothing, housewares (kitchen, bath, bed, etc.), hair combs or sticks, hobby/recreation stuff (knitting, crocheting, photography, games, gardening), posters, cards, gift certificates for anything/anywhere! (Did you get something for your birthday or the holidays that’s perfectly good, but that you just can’t use?)
  • Items of interest to ill or disabled people: Unopened supplement bottles, books on living with chronic illness, disability culture or humor, massage or body work, meditation or yoga instruction (live or on CD or DVD), assistance dog gear or lifestyle stuff, videos educating others about your illness or disability rights.
  • Items of interest to NVC people: NVC books, CDs, or DVDs; BayNVC merchandise; giraffe things (puppets, ears, jewelry, prints, bags, decor); empathy session; coupon/gift certificate for a free workshop or class.
  • Services: The sky is the limit! If you have a skill or passion, chances are someone is interested in learning from you or taking you up on your talents. Editing/proofreading; writing; graphic design; cupcake decoration; astrology; Tarot reading; NVC empathy session; dog training (in person or by Skype); photographing your pet or food styling; bicycle, wheelchair, or car repair or maintenance skills; counseling; gluten-free cooking; life coaching; blogging; how to write a synopsis or query letter or create a portfolio; animal communicating; a or presentation on creating access or what it’s like to live with your illness or to be partnered with a guide dog. You can specify if this is something that can be done by phone, internet, or in person. If you have an idea, bring it, and I bet we can make it happen!

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The purpose of this auction is to help Marlena and allow her to continue teaching NVC to people who really benefit from it and would otherwise not to be able to access it. However, if you have any sort of business — an online store, a consulting business, teaching, etc. — this is also a way to let more people know about you, your services, or your products. All listings of donated items will link to the donor’s website and include their logo or image and a blurb about what they offer. It’s part of our way of saying, “Thank you.”
  • Unless they are antiques or collectibles, tangible items (products, goods) must be in new or like-new condition.
  • Tangible items will be shipped. Whoever donates the item will also be donating the shipping. So, if you’re choosing between sending something heavy or bulky (like a big, hardcover book) or something lightweight (like a silver necklace), you probably want to choose the small, lightweight thing. You’re free to choosing the easiest, most inexpensive shipping option you like; we are not FedEx!
  • Services have many advantages: 1. There is no shipping cost involved. 2. If it’s something you can offer by phone or internet, this usually means it can be bid on internationally. 3. If it’s something you can offer to a group (a workshop or class), we can take several winning bids on one item.
  • If your service or product can only be offered to those in your local area, please indicate the area (e.g., open to bidders in the SF Bay area only, or open to those in NYC only, etc.).

If you would like to donate an item (product or service) to Marlena’s Teaching Fund, here’s what to do:

Contact me as soon as possible to let me know you’re donating something. Please include as much of the following information as possible:
1. A description, which can include things such as materials, size, weight, number, handmade, etc. (Unless I can lift this from your website or a mass-market site, like Amazon.)

2. Any background on you or your product that makes it more appealing (or, again, if this is on your website, let me know, and I’ll get it from there).

3. Your website, shop, blog, Facebook page that is associated with your donated service or product.

4. An image to accompany the description (unless it’s something I can lift from your website or from Amazon, etc.). If it’s a product, send a picture. If it’s a service, your logo or a picture of yourself or something is great. If you are willing to include a text description of your image, that will save me a lot of energy on adding alt tags, but it’s fine if you don’t.

5. The retail value of the item (unless I can find that online). If it’s a one-of-a-kind that doesn’t have a retail value, just take a guess.

6. Whether there are geographical restrictions on who can bid (in USA only, in Canada only, in North America only, in your city only, anywhere in the world, etc.).

7. If this is a tangible item, if you know whether it’s coming from an environment that is smoke-free, or fragrance-free, or pet-free, please indicate this (it doesn’t have to be all three, e.g., if it’s coming from your smoke-free, pet-free home, say so; if it’s coming from your fragrance-free home, say that. If you don’t know what it’s been exposed to, leave this out).

NOTE: If you know you want to donate something, please contact me as soon as possible so I can start a listing — even if you don’t have all the information yet. You can get the rest to me as you are able.

The auction is scheduled to go up Friday, MARCH 9, so I’ll need all item listings by Sunday, MARCH 4 at the latest.

How to get your information to me:

Thank you so much for your support!

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT

P.S. If you use email to contact me and don’t hear back within 24 hours, it probably means your message went into my spam folder. Please try again, preferably using one of the other contact methods.

Signal Boost: Auction to Sponsor Guide Dog Puppy

The generous and talented L-Squared of the blog, Dog’s Eye View, has been trying to raise money to sponsor a puppy for Guide Dogs of America, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization through which she received her current guide dog, Jack.

She recently put together a fantabulous online auction, all the proceeds of which will go toward the $5000 cost of raising a puppy to be a future Guide Dog of America. When you see all the work that has gone into this site — how beautiful it all is and how many things are offered — you will be blown away.

There is a lot of dog stuff, not surprisingly! Toys, treats, collars, and leashes, etc. There are also baked goods, jewelry, hand-knitted and crocheted hats, mittens, purses, and more, including a gorgeous afghan! Art, photography, cards, T-shirts, etc.

There are various one-of-a-kind items and things you can personalize, such as a photo of your choice on stretched canvas, or individually made postcards. How about getting a T-shirt with a message of your choice in Braille? (Real Braille, raised dots, so to read it, you will have to be felt up!) You can have a short story written about a topic of your choice!

If you like dogs or cats, there is definitely something there for you! And even if you don’t, there’s probably something. So, please stop by. Some bids start as low as $3, and there are many items that have not yet received bids. L-Squared gives so much of herself to the blogging, blind, and assistance dog community. This is a great way to give back!

Here is the link once more: Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship Fundraiser Auction.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (I would have eaten those banana cookies), and Barnum, SDiT (I want the Kong!)


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