The Nerd Handbook

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6013 days ago

From The Nerd Handbook:

For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about. Expect active involvement from your nerd when you trip the relevance flag. If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing his judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when he’s not listening and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool”, and when you hear “Cool”, I’m not listening.

I received Managing Humans as a Christmas present, and it’s a fantastic book. It lead me to (back) to Rands in Repose which is now at the top of my list of great places to spend time on the internet. Enjoy :)

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How to give great gifts

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6406 days ago

I like giving gifts. I like it a lot. (It seems to be one of my love languages.) Like most things I care about, I want to be good at it. In this case, I’ve learned a few rules for how to be good at it, and Mom’s post below has inspired me to share them.

Some of this is basic stuff; some of it will help you choose gifts that will succeed wildly. Either way, following these rules will help.

In order of importance:

Put some energy into it

If you only follow one rule, let it be this one. When choosing a gift, make sure that you take the time to do it well. It doesn’t matter exactly what you give or how you give it, so long as you care about it and work (even just a little) at it.

Be thoughtful about what you’re giving

Give gifts that actually reflect the recipient’s individuality. Give something that relates to their life or their situation, or that involves something they care about. Personal gifts demonstrate that you put some energy into choosing the gift.

Give something they want

This one is subtle: give something that the person is actively thinking about or wishing for. A gift that everybody likes is much less exciting than a particular thing that the recipient really wants.

Give something they wouldn’t get for themselves

The gifts that really make people happy are the ones that are just out of their reach. Giving them something they want but weren’t going to get for themselves is almost a sure-fire way to make the gift a success.

Be sincere in your presentation

The actual presentation of the gift is at least as important as the gift itself. Depending on the situation, you may just need to take the time to wrap it or you may need to work some magic and make the presentation truly exciting. Either way, use your preparation, words, and actions to indicate that you are giving the gift because you really want to, and not just because it’s the right thing to do. This ties back to “it’s the thought that counts” – the “thought” is expressed more by your presentation than by the gift itself.

Give something useful

There are a lot of gifts that seem like a good idea when purchased but then end up in a drawer or closet, forever. Such gifts aren’t as effective as gifts that end up in frequent use, over a long period of time. Take the time to consider whether your gift will have staying power.

Note: flowers, art, and charitable donations all break this rule (somewhat), and yet they can all be great gifts. That’s why the rule is near the bottom :)

Don’t give money

It’s almost impossible to give money and live up to all the rules above. Instead, if you can’t do something better, give a gift card to a store that will let the recipient get something that meets the rules above. Be careful, though, that they don’t end up buying socks when what they really want is a sweater.

Happy gift giving!

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The meaning of Christmas

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6406 days ago

I occasionally ask myself why I celebrate Christmas, because I don’t really focus on it as a celebration of the birth of Christ. The general answer that I give myself is “Christmas is about people,” and I’m very happy with that idea. But I’ve never thought it out, or written it down.

My mother, on the other hand, has. She apparently got into an email conversation with someone who isn’t giving gifts for Christmas because they feel that it is too commercial / expected / etc. (I don’t know the details.) Mom replied with a detailed writeup of how she felt about Christmas, and then forwarded bits of it on to me.

It’s quite impressive, so (with her permission) I’m quoting it here, for anyone who needs it. (She’s a teacher, so she mentions the school(s) that she teaches at occasionally.)