Writing Samples

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Being a Closer:

The closer is the king of the business world. If he played baseball, he’d be the powerhouse home run hitter. If he was a golfer, he’d have a scratch handicap with the smoothest touch on any green in the world. He’s that heavyweight boxer who knows when to float like a butterfly and when to sting like a bee. He’s a pro who knows all the angles and who’s seen it all. He’s the main man, the go-to guy and the ringer all in one. Why? The answer is simple. The closer makes money.

Money is what sales is all about. Think about that for a second. It’s one of those blatantly obvious thoughts that, upon consideration, become deceptively complex. A great many people make the mistake in assuming that sales is about technique or presentation or product knowledge. While successful salesmanship does touch upon all those things, it is not about any of them. Instead, a sale is about money, nothing more and nothing less. Anyone who thinks differently is being intentionally or unintentionally naive.

A successful salesperson understands that their job is to generate income by convincing a customer to purchase what they are offering for sale. Moreover, they also understand that their job is to convince that customer that what they’re selling is vastly superior to what the competition is selling. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they understand that their job is to make the customer want and need to possess the product or service they’re selling more than anything else. Part drill instructor, part psychologist and part succubus, the closer is like no else in the business world.

Veganism:

You can likely remember the exact moment that it happened. To be sure, it was a somewhat gradual process that led to that moment. There was almost certainly a growing awareness that some of your behaviors were, shall we say, questionable? It became harder to justify choices that used to be second nature. Like all moral dilemmas, the horns involved made it damn hard to find that previously comfortable position. The tension became increasingly unbearable, until finally a single wisp of straw or, perhaps in this case bacon, settled on the camel’s back and it happened. The “it” I’m referring to, of course, was the end of the carnival. Now, I’m not talking about the one in Rio. No, what I’m talking about is the moment that you decided to stop eating meat. That really was the first step, wasn’t it?

Interesting word, carnival. It comes from the Latin words “caro” or “meat” and “levare” meaning “to remove”. So, our word for a huge, bacchanalian street party literally means removing meat and that’s what you did. You made the decision to remove meat from your diet, thereby ending your personal reign of terror on our bovine, ovine and porcine brothers and sisters. Yet, somehow that did not salve the old conscience. Your quandary continued.

If the keeping of livestock for human use was morally wrong, how does one justify the almost erotic pleasures inherent in a perfectly roasted chicken? One can’t really justify that pleasure knowing what one knows about commercial poultry farming, can one? That’s the problem with morals. They’re just so damn moral.

So, you decided that poultry was off the menu as well. Of course, if poultry was off, fish couldn’t hardly stay on, right? It’s hard to enjoy that perfectly prepared tuna sandwich – mayo with a hint of curry and perhaps a touch of diced apples or dried cranberries – knowing that the ship that caught the tuna was partially responsible for destroying the largest ecosystem on earth. Eco-genocide is so hard on the digestion.

March:

March is an extremely twisted month.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. How about (and with all apologies to T.S. Elliot) March being possibly the cruelest month. It shows up with an implicit promise of light and warmth just when our souls need a shot of both. The dark and cold of the fag end of winter can seem endless. Right around the end of February, at least for me, a wee bit of desperation sets in. The rooms seem a little bit smaller. The days seem a little bit drearier. The simple pleasures teeter dangerously on the edge of the mundane. Ennui rears its ugly head. I dare say that when I’m feeling this way I would even shrug my shoulders at the proverbial City of Light, and we all know what that means. As they say, every mile can seem like two in winter.

So, when I look at the calendar and see that March is approaching, I perk up. I symbolically shake my fist at the damp and dark (well, maybe not so symbolically) to let winter know that it’s time is up. I begin planning my spring. What shall I do on bank holiday? Where shall I stop while on a walk and take a bit of refreshment al fresco? I already can feel the sun on my skin and smell the flowers. I happily wander lonely as a cloud through my daffodil fantasy. That is, until March actually arrives.

You see, March is only a promise of change. My problem is that I take that promise for a guarantee. When it comes to March, there are no guarantees. When, or if, it delivers on that promise is entirely in the hands of the vagaries of chaos that control the climate. I want March to clear winter out. Shake things up as it were. March, in practice, tends to be a little more subtle. Yes, the days are getting longer and the light is getting stronger. Yet, seasonal change and the human ability to detect that change (or at least appreciate it) can be two different things. As a creature of, more or less, immediate gratification, I want my spring and I want it now. I want warm sunny days and verdant green surrounding my every move. Mother Nature, however, moves at her own pace. Sometimes, the rhythm of that pace matches my needs. Oftentimes, it does not. Yet, it’s not nature that’s out of step with me. Instead, it is my impatience with the weather that causes me to stumble as I try and dance with the seasons.

UX/UI:

How UX and UI Fit Together
We’ve learned what UX and UI are. We’ve also learned why both are so important to having a successful web presence. Now it’s time to learn how UX and UI overlap and fit together. We’ll look at how the boundaries of each discipline merge together, one supporting the other. We’ll also examine some key differences between UX and UI. Finally, we’ll take a look at how Tinder has used UX/UI design principles to become the prime example of the power of fully optimized user experience and interaction.

UX and UI Support Each Other
Even with a clear understanding of what UX and UI are it can still be difficult to keep them separate in your mind. That’s because both disciplines have essentially the same end goal, user satisfaction, and use processes that link together in order to reach that goal.

The manner in which UX and UI are interconnected can be likened to a good meal in a fine restaurant. Each dish to be served is carefully prepared using the best ingredients, following specific preparation techniques, and using equipment appropriate for the job. The dishes are then carefully plated and garnished, and served to the customer in a dining room carefully designed to produce a specific ambiance. The overall experience is designed to be relaxed, friendly, and ultimately, enjoyable.

In our fine dining example, the careful preparation of the meal can be considered UX design. The plating and presentation of the meal can be considered UI design. Both the preparation and presentation contribute to the overall satisfaction that the customer experiences while eating. Both elements depend upon each other to reach the goal of a satisfied customer. The one builds upon the other, and neither, by themselves, will produce the desired result.

Like a fine meal, UX and UI design work together to produce an app or website that elicits end user satisfaction. One without the other will not suffice. An app or website that has been fully tested to meet an identified need of a target audience will fail if the end users cannot easily get to the function, product, or service that will meet that need. Likewise, an app or website that allows easy access to a function, product, or service that the target audience doesn’t want will also fail.

AR-15 Rifle:

The AR-15 was developed at a time when the U.S. military was looking towards the future. There was a growing realization, probably fueled by some of the weapon technologies that appeared at the end of World War II, that the face of warfare was changing. This light bulb moment on the part of military planners was correct. By the close of the Second World War, the nature of warfare had, in fact, already changed. The V-2 rocket, Messerschmitt Me 262 and the atomic bomb were ample evidence of this change. The Army knew that it needed new weapons for its boots on the ground. They just weren’t sure the exact form these weapons should take.

Prior to this time, standard infantry rifles were heavy, used heavy ammunition and were relatively slow to fire. Their design was premised on the idea that the average soldier in combat was somewhat stationary and had time to aim and fire at targets of his choice. In short, these rifles valued accuracy over firepower.

Military research revealed the error of this design. It turned out that most infantry combat situations were short, intense firefights where the participants had little time to shoot, let alone aim. Instead of accuracy, firepower was of paramount importance. Therefore, the military needed a lightweight, portable weapon platform that was capable of a high rate of fire and used a munition that was equally lightweight and portable.

The AR-15, developed by the Fairchild Armalite Corporation, filled this need. The AR-15 utilized aluminum, titanium and reinforced plastic and foam to significantly reduce weapon weight. At the same time, it also utilized smaller caliber ammunition that was easier to carry, yet still packed a powerful punch. The military needed the infantry weapon of the future and Armalite delivered the goods.

Mindset:

You know who I’m talking about – those people that’ll constantly complain about a situation, but won’t take any steps to change it. It’s frustrating – these days it drives me crazy, but honestly, I used to be one of them!

That was me for a very long time: a chronically unhappy person. Like a heat-seeking missile, I was a master at finding hard evidence to prove my claims of lack, hardship, challenge, misfortune, and any other hurtful or negative situation that would befall me.

I was too invested in my own sob story to see that perhaps I was at fault. I was feeding myself the evidence I needed to keep this story of hardship and unhappiness in place.

And then one day I was freed to see the truth. Life will always “happen.” And while we have no control over that, what you and I can be empowered to do is meet life with a changed perspective!

Morning Rituals:

How you begin your morning often sets the tone for how the rest of your day will turn out. So it’s a great idea to start your day with the goal of having continued energy and peace throughout. A rushed, unorganized morning often leads to feeling as if you need to “catch up” all day long, and it’s an emotional and physical energy-suck that you just don’t need.

The cure for this is to create a realistic morning routine – a set of rituals that works for you and you alone. There are myriad ways to accomplish this, but this article will outline the five most-loved ways to start the day off on the right foot.

1. The very first thing I suggest you do as soon as you get out of bed is to down a full 8-to-16-ounces of clear water. Before your morning coffee or tea, before you take a shower, before you do anything else, drink your water. Your body has been in a state of fasting all night, and this liquid miracle will rehydrate you, make your brain feel more alert, and jumpstart your metabolism. It may also help to fill up your tummy so you don’t overeat at breakfast.

Breakfast? You don’t eat breakfast? Well, that brings us to the next suggestion.

2. Eat your breakfast. A GOOD breakfast. Not sugary cereal or a donut, either. In order to transition your body from a resting and fasting state to a state of consistent energy, you’ll need all three macros to be present in your breakfast: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Easy on the simple carbs, big on the protein and fat.

Purchasing a Home During the Holidays:

One of the best times to purchase a home is also one of the busiest times of the year – the holiday season. Moving towards December, real estate sales are slowing, but everything else seems to speed up. People are usually so preoccupied with parties, decorating, cooking, gift buying, etc. that it’s the perfect time for you to swoop in and make an offer on that perfect home you’ve been considering.

Here are six reasons you’re likely to get a great deal if you’re shopping for a home during the holiday season:

  1. Distractions, distractions, distractions! There’s just so much to DO during the holidays, and not nearly enough time to get it all done. And if you’re like most of us, it’s not long after Halloween before you begin thinking about holiday parties and presents. Home buyers, too, do a mental check-out during the holidays because honestly – who wants to buy a home with all this fun happening? You. You do.

All this busyness gives you as the homebuyer a perfect opportunity! Use this time of ultimate distraction to your advantage, and get out and look at homes when others aren’t. While they’re carving a turkey, you can be carving out your own little piece of heaven in the form of a new home.

Hygge: 

Hygge, pronounced “hue-gah”, is a Danish word that essentially means the feeling of coziness. In fact, some even call it the art of coziness! It comes from Scandinavian roots, where hygge has been practiced for many, many years. It envisions enjoying small, everyday moments by making them feel more beautiful and special.

There are hundreds of ways to add hygge to your life. And since hygge values small, simple moments, you don’t need a lot of money, time, or energy to make hygge work for you.

Take your morning cup of coffee or tea, for example. It’s not just the coffee you love, it’s the ritual of making it. Notice the scent of the teabag or the fresh ground coffee. Choosing your favorite mug. Waiting for the coffee to brew, or the teapot to whistle. And finally, the first moment the mug reaches your lips and you taste that wonderful hot goodness. It’s not just coffee or tea. It’s an experience, and it is to be enjoyed and treasured, says hygge.

Hiring a Tax Attorney:

There are two reasons why you should hire a tax attorney to represent your interests against either the IRS or the FTB. First, all communication between you and your tax attorney is privileged information.  This means that, unlike a CPA or tax preparer, your tax attorney cannot be compelled to testify against you in any legal proceedings involving the IRS or the FTB.

Second, a tax attorney will be able to give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions when dealing with the IRS or FTB. Your tax attorney will have already successfully negotiated numerous tax settlements with both entities. They know the law, and they are aware of all the programs that are available to taxpayers who owe back taxes. They will be able to use this knowledge to help find the programs that offer the best solution to your tax problem.

Certainly, a CPA will be aware of some of the possible solutions. However, their area of expertise means that they do not deal with the legal end of things when to comes to alleged violations of various federal and state tax laws. The U.S. and California tax codes are complex and change constantly. If you’ve already been notified by the IRS or the FTB that there is an error in your return, taking advice from the wrong person can be a very costly mistake.

Settling a Personal Injury Claim:

There are myriad reasons why a case would settle instead of going to trial. Control, cost, privacy – these all factor in when the insurance company decides to settle. Let’s look into it in more depth:

Settling a case out-of-court allows the insurance company to control the risks involved and avoid expensive legal costs. If the defendant is, in fact, at fault and knows he or she is liable, he or she may not want to risk going in front of a sympathetic jury who will likely grant a large settlement to the plaintiff. This can be avoided by settling well before the case gets to the point of a trial.

When it is a business or someone with a high public profile who is the negligent party, they may very well want to keep the case as private as possible to avoid any negative publicity. One way to accomplish this is to settle the case outside a courtroom. In addition, a company may write into the settlement a confidentiality agreement stating that nothing is to be said publicly regarding the case if the plaintiff accepts the settlement offer.

A trial is a long, arduous process that can last for several months or even years. If the plaintiff is in need of compensation to pay off their medical treatment expenses and avoid financial ruin, they may opt to accept a settlement for a lower amount of money rather than waiting years for the often greater amount that would be awarded at the end of a trial.

Annular Disc Tear Injury:

There are two major causes for any annular disc tear: degeneration of the spine due to aging, or traumatic injury. In many cases, natural aging will cause the degeneration of the spine, but a traumatic injury – a car accident or fall – can result in the sudden tearing of the outermost layer of the disc as well.

Aging and Spinal Degeneration

During your life, your spine absorbs a lot of stress and pressure into the discs simply through day to day activities. In fact, by the time you’re 30 years old, your vertebral discs have begun to dry out and weaken. This is what makes your discs susceptible to an annular tear. Also as we wage, we tend to gain weight. This adds additional pressure, wear, and tear on the discs, making them more apt to damage.

Traumatic Injury

When you’re involved in an accident, the impact can create myriad neck, spine, and back injuries. A traumatic car accident can easily lead to an annular disc tear due to the immense forces involved. The excessive force of being hit by another vehicle and thrown around in a car results in injuries that could lead to an annular tear.