Ron’s Rules of Gift Giving

I have some pretty strong thoughts on gift giving and I thought I’d written a blog post on it, but I haven’t. (As a funny aside I said the same thing in January of 2011). So here’s my long overdue thoughts on giving gifts.

Gifts Need to Have Meaning

The best gifts have meaning for the receiver. You would love to give someone a gift they’d really love. But in order to do this, you really have to know the person. The absolute best gifts are the ones you know the receiver will love, but you also know they’ve never seen.

Hints to Find Gifts They’d Love

Here’s a few questions that might help you find that special something.

Do they collect anything? My mom collects state thimbles. So when we go to a new state my wife always tries to buy a thimble for her to give at Christmas. My wife collects blue glass. Unfortuately I don’t know enough about the specifics of her blue glass collection to buy new pieces, but it is a hint.

What are they into? Video games? Steampunk? Firearms? Music? What kind of music? Even if you don’t know the specifics of their “thing” you can find someone who does. If you want to know what you steampunk friend would like, drop me an email and I’ll have fun making suggestions.

What is their style? Look at your friend’s taste in clothes, the furniture in their house, their favorite art. Do they have a Pinterst account? Pintrest is a meaningful gift gold mind. Now you can find what they like in general and find specific examples.

Meaning To You Can Work As Well

If you have to give gifts to people who you aren’t really close to, but you don’t want to give generic crap, give something that has meaning to you. Every year at Christmas I give a group of people a book. Last year it was The Four Hour Body, before that it was The Four Hour Work Week. My groomsmen got This Present Darkness.

Truth is, they may never read this book, but at least they know you thought about what you gave them and it was important to you.

It’s The Thought That Counts

When it comes to gifts, that really is true. You can give someone a gift certificate, but doing so screams, “I didn’t have to time to think for you.” (Unless it is their -or your- favorite restaurant) Even a gift they don’t want, but they know you searched all over for means something and says they are important to you. That is the point of giving a gift.

One birthday one of my co-workers, who I wasn’t very close to, give me a bag of healthy snacks. I was blown away. She said, “I know you keep snacks in your desk to eat during the day, so I thought you’d like these.” She’d noticed what I did, and got me a very thoughtful gift.

What are some gifts you’ve been given that surprised you with their thoughtfulness?

How Old is Reactuate Exactly?

I was looking at the blog today and noticed the calculation I talked about in the post How to Add a Running Total of How Long You’ve Blogged To Thesis was broken. The days were negative for one thing.

I decided I better update it. I don’t know if PHP has changed since then, or I’ve just gotten better, but it is way easier now to code this. The details on how to add this to Thesis are in the previously mentioned post, so I’m just giving you the new routine.

[cc lang=”php”]function custom_footer() {
date_default_timezone_set(‘America/Chicago’);
$startDate = new DateTime(‘2002-10-28’);
$todayDate = new DateTime(‘now’);
$interval = $startDate->diff($todayDate);
echo "<p>Blogging for ".$interval->format(‘%y years, %m months, %d days’)."</p>\n";
echo "<p>Copyright 2002-".date( "Y" )." Ron Davis. All rights reserved.</p>\n";
echo "<p>Get smart with the <a href=\"http://reactuate.com/recommends/thesis\">Thesis WordPress Theme</a> from DIYthemes.</p>";
}
[/cc]

I’m not sure line 2 is needed, but I was testing the code from the command line on my laptop and had to add that line to get rid of the really annoying php warning.

The thing that makes this so much simpler than the previous incarnation is the diff routine. It basically does all the math for you. Then you just use DateTime’s format method to output exactly what you need.

It also turns out all that math I was doing before to calculate years from days was just wrong. Think about leap years. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Also have to say, this is one of the few things I think PHP does better than Python. Look at the headaches involved with calculating years in Python.

If the days aren’t right in the footer of the blog, this is probably caused by my blog being cached by WP Super Cache. I think it might be better to make this a widget rather than a custom function in Thesis, but that is project for another insomniac night.