Sunday, April 25, 2010

Inspect a Gadget

As you probably haven't noticed, I added a "Follow me on Twitter" button to the right column of my blog. It's a Blogger gadget by GetRank with 135 little graphics to choose from.
One hundred and thirty-five.

You can't see them all sitting out on a nice clean webpage, but rather have to scroll and update individually, so I probably only saw half of them. But they're cute. I could change it every day and not get through them all until the leaves that are finally greening the trees start falling off again. I have a lot of higher priorities vying for daily slots, but in theory.
To get the gadget, go to the "Page Elements" tab of your blog (look for "Layout" and/or "Customize" depending on where you are in Blogger-land)
Click "Add a Gadget"In the bar that says (search for gadgets) type "twitter" or "follow" (either way it's the top result).
Click "Twitter Follow Me Button"
(I'm not showing this screen. It should be pretty obvious and this post is already so image-heavy your computer will think it's downloading porn.)


"Title" is what is says above the icon on your blog, so change, delete, or ignore that as you so choose.
"Height" shouldn't be messed with unless you know what you're doing.
"Twitter Username" is, fascinatingly enough, your Twitter Username.
"Style" lists the 135 icon choices. By number. Every time you change numbers, youhave to click "Update" to see the icon in the preview box. I chose style 120, so that's one less you have to preview to see.
When you're done, hit save and voila! It's on your blog!

If you use this gadget, please comment with a link to your blog and the style number you chose. It'll be fun to see what other people do!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Socio-Political Implications of Dogma in Commerce -or- I Only Buy Seventh Day Adventist Shoes

One of the local brands of eggs includes bible verses in their cartons. I know this and can choose to make sure I do or don't get this particular brand of eggs if that is important to me.

Etsy's handmade/vintage doctrine and independent spirit make it particularly attractive to people with causes and ideals. The opinions' volume can get a bit deafening, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed when you run into the same flavor of crap you thought Etsy could escape.


In the handmade/vintage/indie marketplacedom, we have choice. As DIY self-owned Etsyland grows, it gets easier and easier to find the items we want supporting the social dogma to which we aspire. It's like each individual grocery store egg comes with a message from the chicken who laid it, giving the luxury of one more differentiating attribute as I we together our dozen.

In your business life, choosing to include a prayer or a call to veganism or a warning about the impending cockroach apocalypse is one more way to differentiate yourself from the next person selling felted soap or wire-wrap jewelry. Some people will be more inclined towards your cause and your goods, others will veer away, but that's also true if you paint it black or add more lavender.

It's your choice to share your opinions in your personal and business lives. You can change your opinions, change what you share, change how you share it. There's no need to be angry or surprised when you come across a person with different ideas. Ignore the idea, oppose the idea, but life's a lot easier when you stop getting outraged at the ideas very existence.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find an organic facial cleanser that supports the student movement in Pakistan.

Art credits: Madonna and Christ Child by iconsart, Hand Scratched Duck Egg by teener1416, Dome of the Rock Photograph by rebeccaplotnick, Karl Marx Book from HubcapHalo,

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The early morning-ness of that last post was brought to you today by my dog, who decided he HAD to go out at 7 AM (though his campaign of whining started much earlier), and is now back asleep on a pillow by my desk.

It's a good thing he's cute.

The Story of the Blue Big Ben

My friend who is Cambodian was born on Cambodian New Year, also known as April 13. Saturday, I went with him to Chicago's Khmer New Year's celebration.
Buddhist call and response monotone chanting, hundreds of Styrofoam bowls filled with incredibly delicious curries and noodles and foods without translations, monks in orange and women in traditional Cambodian dress and children in their parents' arms--it was wonderful.

Then it was estate sale-ing time. I was creeping dangerously close to full-blown migraine and I knew I should have said, "Sorry, we'll go tomorrow or some time when I'm feeling better," but we were going treasure hunting to find him his birthday present from me and I didn't want to let him down. I found the three estate sales closest to my house, printed out a very explicit map, and we climbed into the car.

The first two sales yielded nothing noteworthy. As we drove to the third, I had big flashy blind spots in my vision freaking me out and making driving dangerous and terrifying. Meanwhile I learned my friend can't read a map and has absolutely no sense of direction, so I can't hand off navigation duties. By the time we arrived at the last sale, I was ready to vomit, explode, and curl up into a little ball on the lawn for at least an hour.

But I went in.

It was a moving sale, and different members of the family sold their things in separate areas on the first floor. Almost immediately my friend found a gorgeous quilt from the 1920s. He talked them down from $35 to $25. Wow. He took it home with him so I didn't get to inspect it or research it or anything, but happy happy birthday!
In the nephew's corner, I dug through a box of silk designer ties. A lot of them were beautiful-to-gaudy and apparently from the early 1990s. Fabulous as they were, I knew I couldn't sell them on Etsy for at least another year unless undid the seams and used the painted silk for something else...but this is why I have too many projects going, so I restrained myself and left the ties.

I didn't leave the bag drawer pulls or the blue Big Ben alarm clock.

The white haired matriarchal-type had a whole collection of tabletop clocks: electric and wind-ups and alarms, many in working condition and all predating my existence. She had an emotional attachment, I had a budget, so I had to pick a single favorite. In Migraineland, logic and analysis go out the window, so "Blue. Pretty." became my instant deciding factor and we raced home so I could crawl into a nice dark quiet bed and think happy garage sale-related thoughts until sleep ushered me through a few more hours of migraine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Treasure THIS

I got a treasury! I effed up the title, so now I have to go around begging people to click on it so I can feel popular.


'·.¸(¯`'·.¸CLICK HERE¸.·'´¯)¸.·'

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Etsy, Migraines, and the Sweet Illusion of Control

I just posted this in a forum, but it's way better as a blog post:

I've been on here for almost 2 1/2 years now. I joined Etsy right when chronic daily migraine forced me to drop out of "real" life.

Etsy, the economy, and migraines have a lot in common.

We think we know what causes them to fluctuate. We think we know how to control for these fluctuations. We work very hard at keeping our lives balanced and optimized to the best and most of what we want at the best and most of our abilities. Maybe we have control, maybe we don't. But dammit, we will take anything and everything we can as validation and reassurance along the way.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a dairy, soy, nitrate, preservative, and gluten-free dinner to eat while I add this to my blog.
I wish I was kidding.)

This Is What I'm Talking About

(Or about what I'm talking?)
Anyway, hell yes. Big shiny hell yes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Repurpose Proposal

We live in a consumer-driven economy. We earn the money we need to spend on the stuff we want by contributing to the creation of goods and services on which other people are willing to to exchange their earnings. Read Brave New World lately?
Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches.

Alan Greenspan renounced his own faith in the unfettered market; now can we get some of the world's economists to admit that their expertise is no different from making selections on a March Madness bracket, and instead of spending time on the educated guesswork, find and implement a practical way for our economy to move from relying on raw materials to recycling and repurposing the goods already in existence???


In other words: Instead of loggers, wood scavengers/reclaimers. Instead of throwing ANYTHING out, it gets taken back by its industry and used for parts and materials in the latest model.

In other news, my dog smells terrible.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Business Idea for Garage Salers

Like hitting all the garage and estate sales? Find thrifty, recycling-prone friends, neighbors, anyone nearby who will give you money, and have them give you their Target/Walmart/Home Depot/general household item shopping list.

I feel somewhat estranged from Target these days, going when I need toilet paper, razors, moisturizer, and as little else as possible. When my blender died, I found one at an estate sale. Picture frames and the hooks to hang them, a corkscrew, my drinking glasses, the scale I use to weigh packages--all things I picked up from garage and estate sales.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to scour the universe for a "perfectly good electric can opener," six matching wine glasses, and a chainsaw under $10.

But you do.

There's so much stuff out there. Then we keep producing and buying more stuff. There is a market within the capitalist system for the Professional Recycler.

Do other people's shopping for them, but at garage sales. Save them money. Charge a fee low enough that they still save money.

Go forth and thrive.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Econ 203: Everything Isn't About You, OK?

After a very good Etsy virtual lab panel with the women behind The Handmade Marketplace, I'm back in pricing-rant mode. This time I'm making it as simple as possible. Selling vintage things that don't contain a piece of my soul probably helps remind me of the whole capitalist system thing.

An item is "worth" (and I'm using the financial definition of worth) the amount of money a person is willing to pay for it and the current owner is willing to part with it at a given point in time.

Stranded on a dessert island, fresh water is worth more than diamonds (unless you know how to turn the diamonds into a precision cutting tool and do something Gilligan's Island/Macgyver style).

A soda at the movie theater costs hardly anything to produce, but because people are willing to pay $4, the theater can and does charge $4.

Whatever you sell, it's good to know your real costs so you know if it's worth it to keep doing and making and selling.

Finding the person who will pay more for the thing you have may take time and energy. Is your time and energy worth the extra money? Is the thing you are doing/making in the first place worth your compensation for doing/making it?

All sorts of other things probably factor into your idea of worth. With Etsy, we're doing what we love. Hobby and job blur. That's ok. We're human.

But so are our buyers. And as humans, they will pay whatever the item is worth to them. They will pay for the story, pay for the way it reminds them of their childhood, pay for whatever reason the item is worth something to them. If a vintage seller finds a $1 cup, but it's the exact cup someone drank from while they watched the Bears win the Super Bowl with their grandfather right before he died, that buyer will gladly pay more than $1.

So think like a buyer. Find your buyers. Find out more about the people who already bought your items. Find out more about the people who look at your items. Stalk your audience. Whatever you have to and are willing to do.

So long as it's worth it.

The Shining: Heeere's Spongey!

I have a new favorite product. Nothing that's being featured on a Target endcap, no great Etsy find, but an extremely pleasant surprise:
Easy Shine Instant Shine Sponge in "neutral."

On one of my past garage/estate sale-ing romps, I acquired this blue leather briefcase just begging to be a hipster's laptop case, but it was schmutzy in a non-"cool vintage" way. On my last Walgreens run, I found the shoe shine sponge for under $3 and figured it was worth a shot.
Worth so much more than a shot.
It's just a sponge attached to a plastic thing that's a little damp. The damp stuff is made of magic.
I wish I had before and after photos.
Now it's getting the weird white stuff off the awesome multicolored shoes I haven't listed because they had weird white stuff on them. The rest of my vintage shoes (and my regular shoes for that matter) better prepare themselves for the worlds easiest shining.