A post at 4 am from the City of Orlando, Florida - home of one of the best colleges on Planet Earth - The University of Central Florida.  Yes, Virginia, Orlando houses more than mice and Harry Potter. Some very, very smart folks live here too.  After all, think of the wizardry it takes to run Disney and Universal and to send men and women to space.  I say "takes" for NASA too because the decision to halt America's space program was clearly, astronomically wrong and I believe it will be reversed sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I waddled away from my point, which is that my family is here to bring my eldest, Zack, a UCF rising Senior, back home to Myrtle Beach for the Summer.  Zack's a mechanical engineering major and has decided to also do "Honors In The Major" so he'll spend a lot of the Summer researching, studying and preparing to investigate an engineering topic and write a "mini" thesis about it.  You go boy!  I can promise you that my eldest did NOT get his math and technical smarts from his Mom and if you've concluded that my hubby must be a very smart man - you'd be right! 

It's been an interesting trip, largely in the sense of the old Chinese curse.  We left home very early on Friday morning and should have arrived here in the late afternoon.  Should have andwould have, except for the tire blowout we had on I95 near Richmond Hills, Georgia - a suburb of Savannah.   My smart hubby managed to keep his cool when the tire exploded as we were doing about 70 mph in the center lane of 95.  He got the car off the road and changed to the temporary spare and we boogled into Richmond Hills for lunch and a tire change.  Lunch was great and if you're ever in that city, DO go to Southern Image for a buffet of old time Southern goodies that will knock your culinary socks off.  But don't ask the good peeps there to recommend a tire place.  We did, and the store with the sign advertising "speedy service" took over 2 and 1/2 hours, meaning that we didn't make it to Orlando until about 9 pm.

The good part of the late arrival was that the day's graduation activities at UCF were over by then and we were able to drive and pick Zack up right in front of his dorm - saving Zack the really long walk we'd planned so we could avoid the traffic hassles.  But we got the eldest and drove on to Altamonte Springs to the Embassy Suites.  We've loved it in the past, although recently had been staying at the La Quinta near UCF because of the proximity - and its excellent staff.  But all hotels near UCF were booked for graduation, so we returned to the Embassy in Altamonte Springs.

The first problem at Embassy is that we stayed at Embassy - not that its a bad hotel - we love it normally.  But we've reached the stage where we now need 2 rooms so that everyone has a bed.  I'd tried to economize by booking a suite with 2 double beds and the sleeper sofa standard in the den at Embassy.  BAD MISTAKE.  First of all, those beds are not double beds.  They're more the size of the overgrown twin bed in Zack's dorm.  Second of all, DH and I are used to our Queen bed from home and can not occupy an overgrown twin bed with any degree of comfort - especially when the room is constantly HOT.  I DON'T DO HEAT WELL.  NO ONE IN MY FAMILY DOES HEAT WELL.  WE ARE SOUTHERN SO WE WANT OUR INTERIOR SPACES KEPT AT THE TEMPERATURE OF A MEAT LOCKER. 

Despite my repeated requests, Embassy never even sent an employee up to check the air conditioning, so obviously they made no attempt to fix it.   But the hotel room heat wasn't our only fun on the trip.  Nope.  The hotel is also undergoing renovation.  I knew that from the website but foolishly assumed they would renovate unoccupied parts of the hotel.  Not so.  Despite the lying sign in the lobby claiming that the 4th floor is under renovation, we know that the 2nd floor was being worked on as well as the 3rd.  How did we know this?  From the constant drilling and hammering as well as from the construction workers in the hall right outside our room.  We occasionally shared elevators with them and I'm not blaming 'em.    Far from it.  If you ever want to hire a bunch of hardworking guys find out who this hotel is using because those dudes were hammering, sawing and drilling until after 6 pm on Saturday. 

To put the "cherry" on top of our trip, Zack, the eldest,  was trying to play a prank on Sam, our youngest while we were in the car between Orlando and Altamonte Springs.  Zack ended up hitting Sam in the nose, causing a nose bleed and a panicked mother who is still asking Sam if his nose is "happy."  Thankfully - it is happy and Sam is okay.  My DH yelled at everyone - ordering that none of us touch anyone else in the family.  Hmm.......  don't think he thought that one through.  (Of course, he was joking and making a Cosby reference.)

Last night hubby and I crammed into the oversized twin bed and sweated our way through the night.  However, while the men were out seeing a movie and my muse was on my shoulder whispering fast and furious, I discovered that the den area was a little cooler than the bedroom.  For that reason - and because my hubby has to drive for 8 or 9 hours tomorrow and needs his rest, I decided to sleep with Sam on the sleeper sofa.  Sam slept there peacefully last night.  Uhh,  bad idea.  Sam is 14 and has 14 year old bones, but his mother does not. 

The sleeper sofa where it's impossible to sleep is the reason I'm up at 4 am typing this blog post.  I'm also going to do a little writing, although I think muse is passed out somewhere - I'm pretty sure she is because she's a heck of a lot smarter and sturdier than me! 

I'm also ready to head back home to Myrtle Beach.  I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  "There's no place like home, no place like home, no place like home."  Hey, if I could only find some ruby slippers maybe I could save hubby the drive and get us back to Myrtle at the speed of OZ. 

Does anyone know where I can find a pair of magical ruby slippers?  If they've got 'em anywhere  - surely it's in Orlando!!

My office just upgraded to Office 2007 - we didn't go to 2010 because of compatibility issues with other software.  And I'll confess up front -- I'm a rut person.  Actually, I'm a rut person's rut person.  So new technology isn't something I adopt easily.  But usually, I don't feel that the technology was designed to make me, as a woman, feel inferior.  In fact, that feeling has never happened to me - until Office 2007. 

It's all about the ribbon, which is an insidious device that seems designed to serve two evil purposes:  (1) to hamper, harm, denigrate and deter women and (2) to drive women backwards in an effort to survive in the workplace. 

The ribbon is clearly a man's tool.  It's mostly like designed by men for men and it's all about men.  Why?  Because men are visual.  They think in pictures.  And what is the ribbon except a long string of pictures? 

Women think in words.  For women the drop down menus of older versions of Office were easy to understand and navigate.  Well, that couldn't continue, could it?  Women were already succeeding in terrifying numbers.  That had to stop. So the software mogul designed an improvement intended to drive women backwards while men advanced on the work front. 

Why does it drive women backwards?  I'll bet one of the first acts of every woman who spent more than an hour trying to decode all the idiotic pictures on the ribbon did the same thing I did - a Google search for keyboard shortcut codes for 2010.  And I can press control-w all day long to close documents, but every time I do it, I resent the heck out of it. 

If Microsoft isn't trying to be a sexist, anti-woman crusader - it should send users one of those updates that gives us the chance to get our menu bar back - and yes, I want "edit" back on that menu.  Whoever thought it would be a good idea to take all the editing tools that were under one handy label and scatter them randomly on the ribbon from hell?  Whoever it was, I'll tell you who it wasn't - it wasn't a WOMAN.  And don't get me started with out the company screwed up the "view" option.  The "draft" view is the normal view - or at least it is for WOMEN.  Apparently men can't make the mental adjustment to process the words and symbols on the now-draft view. 

So Microsoft -- if your goal is to drive women backwards - roughly to the days of DOS - you're succeeding mightily.  If your goal isn't to alienate women - who make a heck of a lot of the software decisions in most offices - then you best readjust your thinking.  The only thing your current sexist efforts will do is to drive women into the arms of your competitors. 

If Microsoft wants to serve the needs of all of its customers -- rather than just the preferences of its male buyers - the company needs to send us an update that caters to women - THE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO THINK IN WORDS.

Very early in our relationship, my hubby went shopping with me for a purse. Note that I said "very early." There are many things men will do early in a relationship that go out the door when a couple settles into reality - like purse shopping or eating green bean casserole (don't ask). After that early purse excursion, we learned that if we wanted to keep love alive, purse, clothes or shoes shopping should be my department. It must have been a good call, because we've been happily married now for over 20 years.

I hadn't really thought about how men and women shop better for different things until I read about a study in the UK's Daily Mail Online. The study, commissioned by The Co-operative Food, focused on how men and women feel about and deal with grocery shopping. Although women are considered the experts at shopping, our prowess stops at the doors of the grocery store. Yes, Virginia, the study found that women get more flustered and stressed in supermarkets.  

Researchers studied around 2,000 people and found that despite the fact that women are more likely to enter the weekly grocery shopping frey armed with lists and coupons, the experience throws us into a complete tizzy. Women hate the crowds at the store, feel rushed at the checkout and are generally shocked at the cost of purchases.  Two thirds of the women studied said they disliked fighting crowds to get what they wanted and 34% hate it when other people's children get into their way.  1 in 10 of the women confessed to getting into arguments at the store with other shoppers over things like shopping carts, fighting over the same item or line jumping.

Grocery shopping, it seems, is an activity that men excel at and enjoy.  "Men seem to adopt a much more laid back and methodical approach, taking their time looking for bargains and make sure they’re getting the most for their money."

The study found that 51% of the men are more likely to opt for brands they know while 26% of the women grab the first brand they find because it helps speed up the shopping.  It found that women are more likely to ask for help in locating something, but men are more likely to use technology to make the shopping easier.

Authors of the study say that for women, grocery shopping is apt to be just another on a long list of things they have to do so women rush through the grocery store "to conduct the shopping as quickly as possible."    Researchers theorize that there is a "new breed of male supermarket shoppers."  I find a lot of the studies I run across interesting, and may share them with blog readers even if I personally consider them to be chock full of hogwash.  I'm sharing this one for the opposite reason -- based on personal experience, I think it's absolutely accurate.

I hate a grocery store.  Just the sight of one makes me feel tense and unhappy.  One of the happiest days in my life was when Lowe's Foods came to Myrtle Beach because of the Lowe's To Go Service.  It meant I could order my groceries online and schedule a pickup time. I'd drive into the parking lot, push a loudspeaker button to announce my presence, and an amazing employee would wheel my groceries right out to my car.  It was life altering for me - and it still would be today.  The only reason I stopped using the service is because of a change in workschedules and hours, my hubby started doing the grocery shopping.  He prefers going into the supermarket and engaging in that whole battle.

It was hard for me to understand how my DH could possible enjoy the shopping experience, but the new study indicates that he's not alone.  It turns out that the grocery store is a man's world.  But you know what?  I'm okay with that.  I'm very, very okay with that.  Really, I'm okay with anything that keeps me out of the grocery store.

Don't tell my hubby, but he's much better at grocery buying than I am!    Besides, my DH looks so cute pushing around that shopping cart...

My brand new marvy Maytag stove inspired this post. 

The stove is stainless steel with a black ceramic surface, convection cooking, a hidden lower cooking element and a steam clean option.  It was born and bred right here in the USA.  It replaces a stove that was new in 1986 when our house was built.  We got our old stove with the house when we bought it in 1993.  It was a coil eye stove and the thing was so old that we couldn't find any eyes that fit properly to replace one that died.  My hubby had reinstalled the upper heating element in the oven a couple of times.  We had more stains than you could count on the lower heating element.  Cleaning meant "Easy Off" fumes and lots of elbow grease. 

The new stove is beautiful and it's expecting a little Maytag friend soon - a stainless dishwasher that should be delivered in early February.  I don't even want to talk about how gross our dishwasher is.  Suffice it to say, the thing was - like our stove- new in 1986, purchased with the house and it is now falling apart - literally. 

I was staring at the stove and thinking about life last night.  See, the stove and dishwasher were purchased with a combination of writing money and the Christmas bonus from my day job. And last night while I stared at it, the little hamster that turns the wheel in my head woke up and commenced running.  When my hamster brain ran hard enough, the light bulb turned on - and I smiled. 

I've always believed that I'd be successful when my fiction writing paid enough to allow me to quit my day job and write full time.  That's still my goal.  I still believe that being a full time author is where I'll be happiest and most fulfilled.  But my stove made me realize that maybe I was committing the same error as our politicans in Congress.  My stove made me realize that compromise doesn't always mean failure - sometimes it's a hallmark of success. 

Like just about everyone everywhere I've had to make a bunch of compromises since the bottom fell out of the economy.  I've had to get to the point where I prioritized bills - the houshold bills first, then my eldest son's college expenses and then everything else.  The everything else means that I pay what I can on everything else and either the companies deal with that or they don't.  And because I grew up in a perienally poor household where I got stuck talking to all those creditors, having a re-run of that era had convinced me that I was a complete failure.  My stove made me realize that wasn't true.

I've reached a point with my day job and my writing where I could get my eldest back to UCF for the Spring Semester of his Junior year and we could replace our ancient stove and dishwasher.  I'm not writing on my fiction full time but I do essentially write full time.  (My day job mainly consists of legal research and writing.) That means that I haven't reached my goal -- but I have progressed on my journey.  

And success isn't measured solely by reaching that one goal.  If I reach it -- when I reach it -- there will be a new goal.  If I don't have goals I have no direction for my life.  So there will always be a goal.  But the goal is only a mile marker - it's not the finish line.  As long as I'm running towards the next marker and making progress, then I'm not a complete failure.  Even if the phone is still ringing and my answering machine is still full of hang up calls, I'm not a complete failure.  I'd only be a complete failure if I failed to try and just threw up my hands. I'd only be a complete failure if I stopped setting goals and heading towards them.

I haven't said "I can't."  I've said, "I haven't gotten there yet."  And I'm still in the race and heading in the right direction.   I've made progress and the next time I doubt that, I'll look at my shiny new stove.  It's a concrete reminder that success isn't a destination - it's a journey.  In our horrendous present economy, many people have been forced to face things they'd rather not, and do things they'd sworn not to.  It would be awfully easy to say - I can't or I won't or I quit.  No matter how tempting it is to throw in the towel, I owe it to myself and my family to continue running along the road, heading for the next mile marker. 

It's important to allow ourselves time to stop and assess when we reach certain plateaus.  The stove might not seem like much to lots of folks, but it means a lot to me.  Success is a very individual thing but certain things about it are common to all of us.  Success is not getting to one place or achieving one thing - it's staying in the race and keeping that towel firmly in hand, ready to wipe sweat from our brows, tears from our eyes --- or sometimes,  just sometimes to wave in a cheer. 

The next time you're in a place where you're thinking of throwing in the towel because you're not where you wanted to be or planned to be, stop and take a look around at where you are.  You may not be at the next mile marker yet, but you're not at the last one either.  Like me, you're on the way. 

Success is a journey.  We may not make the trip the way we planned and we may have to stop and plot a new route.  None of that means we got it wrong.  In fact, all of it means we're getting it right.  Sometimes, along the way, life may throw in an appliance or two. If you look into the stainless steel hard enough, intently enough, your dreams might reflect right back at you.   They're still there - bright and shiny and waiting, just waiting for you to reach out and grab 'em on your way to all your future success. 

See - in the duck lady's house, a Maytag just might turn out to be a crystal ball.

For Christmas this year all I wanted was a Kindle Fire, accessories for it, and an Amazon Prime subscription. 

By special arrangements with my wonderful hubby, I got exactly what I wanted. And you know what? I have no "Christmas regrets."  I don't have even the itty bittiest twinge of buyer's remorse.  In fact, I have the opposite - I'm filled to the brim with buyer's satisfaction.   So naturally, I had to put fingers to keyboard to tell y'all all about it.

I've been privileged to publish on Amazon via their magical, mystical KDP platform for a couple of years now.  Yet, I'm a newcomer to the Amazon customer universe.  I'm confessing that up front because I don't doubt that some of my adoration for the Kindle Fire is actually adoration for the whole Amazon experience.  Getting a Fire gave me the keys to the ereading kingdom. I now have access to the biggest, the baddest, the best ebook variety on Planet Earth.  Pretty much, if there's an ebook in existence, it's gonna be on Amazon and it's gonna be there for the lowest price. In this economy, that's a big plus for the Amazon experience and for the Fire.

Before I got my Fire, I read the flood of criticism that seemed to pour from every which way. They said that the device is faulty because there is only 1 button.  That button turns the Fire on and off and critics claim it causes  many consumers to accidentally turn the device off while they're using it.  Critics also said that the web browser was way, way too slow and that the App Store was vastly underpopulated.  And they cited big problems with the touch screen features that were sometimes unresponsive.

Of all those major problems that the reviewers cited, the only one I've encountered is that sometimes the touch features don't respond.  When that happens, I'll either try again, touch the home key, or touch that much maligned little on-off switch to restart.  Frankly, it doesn't bother me that much but I understand Amazon is working on the issue.  Through recent personal experience with a bad Tablet purchase (not a Fire - an Android for my eldest son) from an Amazon vendor, I've learned that when Amazon gives its word, Amazon keeps its word.  So when the company says it's working on the touch screen issues, I now believe it completely. 

Even if the little touch screen glitches remain, I've found the Fire to be the ultimate entertainment device experience and if y'all don't have a Fire, you need to pick one up right now.  This minute. 

All of the other criticism - about the on/off switch, the slow browser and the insufficient App store - hasn't cropped up as a problem for me at all. I mean, not even once have I had an issue with those features.  The good peeps at Dear Author have some very informative info up about how to change device settings on the Fire so that you can load Apps from other vendors.  I changed the setting, but I haven't left the Amazon once to get anything from anywhere else. 

I've watched a video through the prime service - Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Christmas.  It was lots of fun and I look forward to boogling through some of the other offerings.  I'm looking forward to revisiting the 1st episode of the 1st season of "Grey's Anatomy" and re-living the time when the Mer/Der magic was new. (Readers of this blog will know that I've been a Grey's Gal since episode 1.) My youngest son will demand some Fire-time to watch the early seasons of "Dr Who," and my hubby will doubtless want to explore some of the Star Trek offerings.  The Amazon Prime video offerings are already numerous and they're growing every day.  I may even pick up some of the first season of "Ellery Queen" - originally I thought it was free for Prime, but alas, I've discovered it's $1.99 per episode.  Still, I'll likely pick up one or two of 'em because that's classic TV in its best, its most intelligent and excellent form. 

I never had a real yen for an iPad and now I'm glad I never got one.  My Kindle Fire is much more portable and it offers something that neither the iPad nor other Android devices can match - the ability to download video to the device.  Yes, America, you can download movies or TV shows onto your Fire and then watch them on a plane, in a train, or on a long road trip in the car.  Funny that the critics never mention that feature now, isn't it?  The ability to download video means the Fire vanquishes Android Tablets and it even kills the mighty iPad.   But the critics couldn't go around saying that now, could they?  Because their goal seems to be to dampen the Fire before it burns so far it gets out of control.

Kindle Fire brings the tablet to a place where nearly everyone can afford it and it dishes out the tablet experience in a way that even a non-techie like me can do more than "get it" - we can own it. 

Nope, the critics didn't kill my Desire for Fire and I'm mighty glad I didn't listen to them.  They were so loud in their howling cries that I suspected they had an agenda.  I suspect it much more now that my personal experience contradicts their claims.  The critics were ranting that Amazon's everyman tablet experience would die beneath the weight of all the device returns to the company after the holidays.  Wonder how that's working out?  I haven't heard a peep from consumers who returned the Fire nor from Amazon, discussing Fire returns.  The critics would like Amazon to go under but it's folks like you and me that will keep the company floating happily along at the head of the pack.

Instead of a product return, I'm giving a product testimonial - and it goes out with a great big "Thank You" to Jeff Bezos and the entire Amazon Kindle Fire team.  Those critics I was talking about before seem like the kind of folks who believe  "You can't get rich by overestimating the intelligence of the American public."  I've never listened to those people - instead, I listen to the public and my readers - or I try to.  And I believe that Amazon is the company Bezos built on the principal that you CAN get rich by catering to the intelligent population of America - and other countries all around the world. 

Trust me on this one, the Kindle Fire is a tablet you can buy knowing you'll love it and understand it because it was created for you by a company that believes you should want more, you should get more and you deserve more.  So Amazon gave you more - it's created a Fire that puts the world at your fingertips.

I'll admit to enjoying checking out my horoscope as cast by Jonathan Cainer.  BTW, I'm a Leo.  Too bad there's not a duck in the Zodiac. I'd have to change my birthday to get that sign!

Anyway, late yesterday I was checking Mr. Cainer's horoscope reading for today to see if it was going to be as tough as most of the days have been lately.  Cainer says Leos have been having a rough time because Mars has been boogling through our sign.  Thank goodness mean ole' Mars exits Leo at the end of the month because I've had about enough of him.

In the horoscope I just read Mr. Cainer was referring to this Friday's date.  If you check your calendar, you'll see that 11.11.11 is the date on Friday.  And according to Mr. Cainer, lots of folks think 11.11.11 is the day we can re-boot our lives. It's interesting to consider, isn't it? 

When I consider something, I Google it and when I googled this, I ran across  Numerologist's Nam Hari Kaur Khalsa's thoughts on the significance of 11.11.11.  Mr. Khalsa says as follows:

The date of 11.11.11 is one of the most powerful shifts in human awareness that we will experience in our lifetime. It is a rare opportunity to release lifetimes of karmic scripting and ancestral entrapment. Entrapment in the sense of the conscious and unconscious habit patterns which have us wondering why we can’t seem to actualize the life we really want to have, and know is possible. 11-11-11 is the cosmic birth date of humanities prayer for liberation from the rote, mundane, and monotonous. Many people are presently feeling, “I can’t go on like this anymore, I just can’t live like this another day.” 

And Mr. Khalsa says that Eleven is the sound current of infinity.  He suggests that "Eleven is the sound current of Infinity, and sound is one of the most powerful ways we can heal ourselves. Mantras contain a frequency of sound which is a healing force that is available to us all."

Mr. Khalsa suggests we channel the energy of the day by chanting a "Magic Mantra":   

There is one Creator of all Creation.  All is a blessing of the One Creator.  This realization comes through Guru's Grace.

The numerologist says  this is the “magic mantra” because it "can shift the flow of the psyche so powerfully that new opportunities seem to materialize out of nowhere."

Wouldn't you love a chance to re-boot your life?  For me, a re-boot would be having an opportunity to write full time.  When I'm writing and my muse is with me I feel like I'm channeling thunder.  I don't know if chanting the mantra will be magic or not, but why not try some possible magic?

I wish everyone a happy re-boot on 11.11.11!!!!!!!!!!!(11 exclamation points. I might as well make the most of the current of infinity.)

I haven't blogged this weekend. First, it's been kind of busy otherwise. My youngest was 1 of 3 nominated for Freshman Prince at his HS in Myrtle Beach - Socastee High School. I've been running around for the past week being sure he had costumes for every day of spirit week and tending to details to get him ready for Friday.

Friday he was in the Homecoming Parade at school - thanks to John for being an ace driver and to my boss for loaning us his Miata so Sam could sit on the back, holding a SHS towel and wave it at the screaming crowd. And they were screaming - his name. Of all the Prince candidates, Sam had the most crowd support at the parade. So it shouldn't have surprised me so much at the football game halftime ceremony on Friday night when Sam - WON.

Yes, Virginia, my youngest is the most popular kid in his HS class. It's hard for me to relate to that. I was never popular at all. I wasn't even important enough to be unpopular. I was just sort of there. So having my youngest enjoy such popularity is just sort of - surprising. He does share 1/2 my gene pool, you know? And yet he achieved so much. Way to go Sam!

Other than that - I've been working on my new one: The Office Ink Spells Murder. It's coming along well, but needs some intense periods of work. Next weekend I'll be working on my blog for All Day, All Night Writing Divas - it goes up at 1 am or so next Sunday night - 10/17/11. So for my post next week, I'll give you a little taste of The Office Ink.

But this week, I thought I'd give you a different kind of taste - PIZZA. John found this great video showing a pizza vending machine. It makes you a fresh pizza while you watch. It reminds me of the Jetsons.

I only have one question. If pizza vending machines have arrived - then where's my flying car? George Jetson had one, dang it. Maybe the flying car is next.

Recently, Forbes published a list of the 10 Happiest Jobs.  It followed publication of their list of the 10 Most Hated Jobs.  The only thing about the Forbes' list that really shocked me was that "author" didn't rank as the #1 Happy Job.  That's where it would place on my list. 

What was the biggest difference in the happy and the unhappy list? Forbes says "One set of jobs feels worthwhile, while in the other jobs, people can’t see the point." 

Here are the 10 happiest jobs:

1.  Clergy: 2. Firefighters: 3. Physical therapists: 4. Authors: 5.  Special education teachers: 6. Teachers: 7. Artists: 8. Psychologists: 9. Financial services sales agents: 10. Operating engineers.

Here are the 10 most hated jobs:

1. Director of Information Technology: 2. Director of Sales and Marketing; 3. Product Manager; 4. Senior Web Developer; 5. Technical Specialist; 6. Electronics Technician; 7. Law Clerk; 8. Technical Support Analyst; 9. CNC Machinist; 10. Marketing Manager.

If I had to put on my Swami Hat - and in this blog, I do, I really do - then I'd guess that what makes the happy list are jobs that give workers freedom to exercise independent judgment in a creative way.  Every job on the happy list does just that.  On the other hand, the jobs on the unhappy list  are tasks that are fairly rigid in their requirements and don't allow room for independence or personality. 

I still say that Forbes got it wrong.  The happiest job in the universe has to be working as a full time author. You get complete independence and creative control and if something isn't going the way you like - you just re-write it.

You know what?  I'm sure Forbes got it wrong. Author should be #1.  I DEMAND A RECOUNT.... especially if we get to go to Florida for it.  My eldest is in school in the City where Mickey Mouse lives. 

Recount, anyone? Or maybe a picket line.  We could all carry signs and chant lines from our favorite romance novels.  See - it would even be an entertaining kind of protest!

Yep, peeps, once again my daring co-horts over at All Day, All Night Writing Divas have unleashed the crazy duck lady.  It was my turn to blog and instead of reporting me and calling for me to be committed, they just let me rip.  Would you read a blog crazy enough to let me post?

Anyway, this month I'm blogging about a great piece over at Huffpo by Dr. Drexler.  It's all about how men love and it contains some real surprises. I might post it here after it comes down at the other site, but you don't want to wait.  Trust me. 

So quack on over and read it this minute. Be sure to leave a comment because I'd love to hear your thoughts.

A new study conducted by Northwestern University's Kellog School of Management & the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign asked 307 adults between the ages of 19 and 103 to describe their regrets.  Specifically, participants were asked to describe in detail one decision that they came to regret.

Regrets about romance led the list and women were much more likely to have romantic regrets than men.  Around 44% of women described relationship regrets as compared to only 19% of the men. 

"It speaks to something psychologists have known for a long time. Women are typically charged with the role of maintaining and preserving relationships, so when things do go wrong, it's very spontaneous for women to think, 'I should have done it some other way,'" said senior study author Neal Roese, a psychologist and professor of marketing at Northwestern. "It's how men and women are raised in this culture."

Men were more likely to have regrets about work or education. The work regrets centered on failing to take a risk and accept a different job or working at an occupation that they didn't feel passionate about.

The most interesting part of the study is that the long-term regrets were much more often about what participants didn't do. Yes, Virginia, the long term regrets centered on the risks not taken.  And the study noted that the biggest basis for the regrets were that people didn't try - what people rember are the times they failed to go for their dreams.  

Yesterday is over and none of us can change the past.  However, we can and should think about our regrets and learn from them so that we can change our future.   

"Regret is an essential part of the human experience," Roese said. "You should listen to the lessons your regrets tell you, which is quite often how you could have done things differently or how you could change things."

This is something that we can all change - starting today.  If you're single or single again and regretting the one that got away - look him or her up. Facebook and Twitter have made the world a much smaller place.  Finding that someone and giving them a Holla' won't cost you a thing.  If you regret that you didn't go for your Masters or that you didn't study psychology instead of business - get online and enroll in a class now. Even if you can't afford a big education budget, you can probably afford to take that first step.

And if you're like me, and your regret is not working hard at your writing so that you could become a full-time author, then today is the day to dedicate yourself to that too. Work on your writing every day. Make progress - at least some progress- on your WIP every day.  Don't let a single day go by without being active on Twitter, Facebook, Your Blog. 

And if you have a book or two out now - market by doing all of that social networking, but don't forget the best way to market - track down blogs - lots of blogs- and comment.  When some of your thoughts hit home with another reader, they're likely to click your blog and check out your list of books. Before you know it, you may have made another sale.

Today is a good day to turn a past regret into a future success.  Let's all give it a shot and see how far we can go.  If we try, we may fail. But if we fail to try, we'll always regret it!