Blue Cat Returns to Winter Driving

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Blue Cat had thought that winter was far behind him here in Colorado Springs – given that it’s May and it’s been in the 60’s and 70’s all week. But then Thursday happened.

It was a bright sunny day with some dark clouds by the mountains when Blue Cat’s scribe was driving home. But when he stopped at an intersection, he saw a wall of white coming slowing from the West. And then he drove into it – a heavy downpour of small hailstones. Not enough to dent the car, but more than enough to cover the road with 1/4-inch pellets of ice. Which made driving very difficult. (Well, the stopping and turning anyway.) Here’s what the hail looked like:

Hail, hail, the ice is all here...

Hail, hail, the ice is all here…

It’s a good thing Blue Cat’s scribe can improvise when driving – he took the longer but flatter route home so he didn’t have to go through the intersection that always has an accident when the roads are slippery. And it was good that the car had ABS and all-wheel-drive.

Spring in Colorado

Spring in Colorado

As you can see, Blue Cat lives in an area where the ground can be covered in ice and there are flowers on the trees.

He says you should come visit sometime – but make sure you bring a coat “just in case.”

© William P Doyle, Jr  2014  All Rights Reserved

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Blue Cat Changes His Plan

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If you’re wondering where Blue Cat’s picture is today, you need to know that Blue Cat loves snow, but doesn’t like driving in it. So today he’s hiding in his creator’s purse – because today Blue Cat learned that a plan is not a recipe, but a guide.

That will take a bit of explaining. Blue Cat is in Provo, Utah picking up some of his friends from college (BYU to be exact), and like always he made a plan on how the trip would go. He was going to drive out on Friday, do some sightseeing on Saturday, and then drive back to Colorado on Sunday. A nice, relaxing trip – but then the snow came.

Unknown to Blue Cat, there’s a front going through the West, and it’s going to dump a lot of snow on the mountain passes on Saturday night and Sunday (or not – you can never tell in Colorado). And so driving home on Sunday will be very difficult. But Blue Cat has a plan, he says! Blue Cat can’t go against the plan!

Well – plans are just that – plans. It’s easier to always follow the plan, but things change and usually in ways that the plan can’t handle. So while having a plan is a good thing, you also need to know when to improvise as things change.

Blue Cat also knows that making a plan helps you to improvise. For example, even though he has to leave a day early, Blue Cat already has a good route picked out and knows where all the good places to eat are. And he knows he’ll be home in time for snacks.

So try to plan your projects like Blue Cat, but don’t worry if the plan has to be sidelined when things change. And have a great week!

UPDATE: Blue Cat learned another important lesson on this trip – that you can’t second-guess a decision made in the past. You see, he made the decision to drive home early based on the information he had at the time – that the weather would be really bad over the passes on Sunday. He missed all of the snow, but it turns out the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as predicted. So he could have stayed in Provo another day without too much trouble. But does this mean he made a bad decision? No, because the decision he made was based on his knowledge at the time and so it was a good decision. So – no worries for Blue Cat. And he’s safely home in Colorado!

(C) William P Doyle, Jr 2014 All Rights Reserved

Special Post: Blue Cat Defrosts a Turkey

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Blue Cat’s family is having a big Thanksgiving this year. Really big – with 14 family members (everyone except Blue Cat’s creator, who is still on her mission in California). That means Blue Cat needs turkey – lots of turkey – to feed all those hungry mouths. So Blue Cat bought two 18-pound turkeys on Saturday.

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But Blue Cat had a problem – all the store had left were frozen turkeys. And, although the wrapper says that an 18-pound turkey will defrost in the refrigerator in 4 days, Blue Cat didn’t believe it. Especially since one of the turkeys would be in the refrigerator in the garage, where the outside temperature is below freezing.

Luckily, Blue Cat understands thermodynamics. He knew that he needed the turkey in a warm place, but needed to keep it cool so it wouldn’t spoil. How to transfer heat  while keeping things cool? With a bucket of water.

Blue Cat found the right bucket at Lowe’s – but the 5-gallon orange ones at Home Depot would work as well.

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He put the turkey in the bucket and then filled the bucket with cold water. Now, the water would warm from contact with the side of the bucket, but the water would be cooled by the ice-cold turkey. Heat would flow into the turkey from the warm house air through the water, ensuring that the turkey never got too warm.

A pretty good solution, but those of you who know turkeys are probably laughing because you know … that turkeys float:

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Not good for Blue Cat – that part of the turkey that’s above the water line will get to room temperature quickly and start to spoil. What Blue Cat needed was something heavy and waterproof – like a tub of home-made soap:

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The tub holds the turkey under the water, and Blue Cat gets to sit in a cool place. And the soap just goes along for the ride.

Blue Cat is looking forward to Thanksgiving and all that turkey – especially since most of his family will be there to share it with him. What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?

© William P Doyle, Jr  2013  All Rights Reserved

Blue Cat and the Birthday Cake

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It’s Blue Cat’s scribe’s birthday, and his family decided to bake him a cake. Everyone in the family likes the minions from Despicable Me, so they decided to make a cake-minion for the celebration. They started with a plan…

Everyone likes minions!

Everyone likes minions!

and the usual ingredients…

You can make lots of things with cake mix.

You can make lots of things with cake mix.

But how do you make a shaped cake without a mold? And how do you decorate a cake when you don’t have fancy frosting tools? Like many projects, this one seemed too hard. But Blue Cat’s family is smart and resourceful – and happened to have a bowl, a plastic bag and a pair of scissors. They used the bowl to bake a minion head, and the bag and scissors to make a frosting tool.

Frosting isn't that tricky...

Frosting isn’t that tricky…

And here’s the result!

Cake minion to the rescue!

Cake minion to the rescue!

The party was a great success, and it showed how you can get great results from mundane materials. So the next time you have a project that seems too hard, Blue Cat suggests you just look at what you’ve got and improvise. You’ll be glad you did!

© William P Doyle, Jr  2013  All Rights Reserved

Blue Cat and Recovering From Disaster

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According to some, the world ends (or at least experiences a major disaster) today. Blue Cat doesn’t think that’s going to happen, but he did experience a minor disaster and saw how improvising and being creative can help you when things don’t go the way you’ve planned.

Blue Cat’s creator is going to a party today and promised to bake a cake. She used a new recipe, but didn’t remember to adjust the recipe for high altitude baking. (Blue Cat lives in Colorado Springs at an altitude of over 6000 feet above sea level.) You may not know it, but you need to add more flour and liquid to recipes when you’re baking at altitudes higher than 3500 feet, or else your cake may not rise the way you’d like it to.

The cake ended up severely depressed (which, for a cake – a usually festive piece of food – is catastrophic). Instead of a fluffy center, there was a giant dip. And layering the cake didn’t help…

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The cake was depressed, but Blue Cat’s creator wasn’t…

Blue Cat’s creator didn’t panic – instead, she used the result to make an even cooler cake than she had planned. The depression became a crater, and she used materials from around the kitchen (including some cookie crumbs from another baking mishap) to create a semi-realistic meteor impact site (complete with high-temperature glass shards and a barely-surviving house). She took what could have been a baking nightmare and turned it into the perfect cake for a party on the last day of the Mayan calendar.

So the next time your plan doesn’t go as you had hoped, Blue Cat suggests you don’t give up. He says to use the situation to your advantage and see how it presents an opportunity to be successful in a different way.

Blue Cat also hopes there are some leftovers…

© William P Doyle, Jr  2012  All Rights Reserved

Blue Cat Discovers the Meaning of Life

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Today Blue Cat was looking for one of his creator’s old cookbooks so he could make popcorn truffles for Family Home Evening snack. He was in a real hurry, but he didn’t find the cookbook. He did, however, discover something about life in general…

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It’s not with the other cookbooks…

What Blue Cat discovered is that sometimes what you’re doing becomes more important than the goal, and that it never pays to be in too much of a hurry.

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It’s not with the pet supplies, either…

After a while he could have gotten frustrated, but the search became even more interesting than the cookbook.

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Wow – there are a lot of interesting spices to try…

Although sometimes life can get a little dangerous…

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Why is it so dark all of a sudden?

But he discovered hidden treasures…

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Look! TWO boxes of fudge brownie mix!

… and he got reacquainted with some long lost friends.

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“So – a sock monkey, a cat, and a bear went into a shawarma restaurant…”

In the end, he found something just as good as popcorn truffles.

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Cookies and hot chocolate – I think that will do!

So remember what Blue Cat learned today – life is a journey, not a race. So take time to enjoy the journey, and don’t be so focused that you miss the interesting sidelights that are all around you. And remember that sometimes you need to keep the bigger vision in mind and improvise on how to measure success.

At least that’s what Blue Cat thinks!

© William P. Doyle, Jr.  2012  All rights reserved

Blue Cat Finds His Way

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Back in the olden days (when Blue Cat’s scribe was the chief of plans for an unnamed government agency), we used to plan for the future with “roadmaps” – a strategic plan that laid out where we were, where we were going, and how to get there. But that doesn’t work anymore, because the environment changes so frequently and so fast that a roadmap is out of date almost as soon as it’s written. But Blue Cat has found a better way…

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Blue Cat focuses on his “true north”

Blue Cat figures out where to go next using his vision and mission statements – things that tell him his goal and what’s important to him. They’re like a compass and a set of guidebooks – it doesn’t matter how the terrain changes, they always point to where he wants to go and give him options for along the way. (Yes, Blue Cat knows that a compass always points North, and that he probably doesn’t want to just go north, but it’s a metaphor he’s comfortable with.) That way he can overcome “roadblocks,” deal with detours, and take advantage of cool opportunities along the way. Instead of an inflexible roadmap, he has tools to point him in the right direction and information to help him on his way.

So go and do the same. Let Blue Cat know what you’ve done or if you have questions on how to do it by leaving him a comment below.

Good luck finding your own way!

© William P. Doyle, Jr.  2012