Monday, October 1, 2012

I can't believe she's stayed 2 years

A little while ago, my bride and I celebrated 2 years of marriage together so we took our yearly cruise.  This year we wanted to do things a little differently though, so we booked a cruise leaving out of San Juan Puerto Rica.  We flew into San Juan a few days before the cruise left to get Maximum enjoyment out of this trip.  Just a heads up, if you go to San Juan and rent a car, get the extra insurance!  You have no idea the nightmare that is driving in San Juan.  EVERYONE there has the right of way at all times.  Got 4 lanes of traffic to cross?  Not a problem, pull on out at your own pace, everyone else will stop for you, because you have the right of way.  Light’s red? It’s ok, keep on rolling, you’ve got the right of way.  Every car there was beat up.
Part 2 of our Anniversary trip, the cruise!  If you guys haven’t noticed yet, we love to cruise, you can’t get a better value for your buck than you can on a cruise ship.  Only problem with this cruise is there were too many ports of call.  It felt too much like work.  We had to get up at 5:30 every morning to catch a bus to some excursion, most of which were awesome, one, not so much.  In St. Kitts they have a train that will take you around the island so you can see the beauty that is St. Kitts.  My bride was all about this, plus she heard you could see goats, sheep and monkeys, she was sold no matter the cost.  I was most excited about the catamaran ride back to the ship.  I love being on the water.  The wife got to see her goat, and a horse, and about 27 monkeys, I didn’t get my catamaran ride back to the boat.  As it turns out, the train engine has been running since about 1912, ok I can’t back that up, but it was OLD.  I believe the day we rode that train was the day he decided to retire.  We’re about a quarter the way around the island and the train dies.  In the middle of nowhere.    No roads to be seen for our rescue, and a steep drop down to the ocean on the other side of us.  We sit out in the sun baking for about 45 minutes before they get the train running again.  We go a whole 400 or 500 more yards over a bridge and around the bend for the train to die for real this time.  Lucky for us though, those few hundred yards got us close enough to a banana farm that buses could get to us and get us out of there.  They cancelled the rest of our tour, gave us our money back and sent us back to the ship.
Part 3 of our Anniversary trip, the trip home!  Once I check out of a hotel room, or get off the boat, I’m ready to be home.  To me the vacation is over.  On this trip, not so much.  We had to book a later than we wanted too flight.  Not only was our flight later than we wanted, turns out, our flight gets delayed.  Not a big deal, only delayed 30 minutes, the big delay came when we landed back in the ATL.  No, not with our luggage, our luggage was spinning round and round on the belt waiting on us to pick it up.  For this trip we found an AWESOME deal on groupon for airport parking.  40 dollars for 10 days.  We couldn’t pass this up.  It was offsite parking called “Airport Valet”.  You go to their building pick up one of their guys, go to airport, and they drive off with your car.  When you land you call them, they bring you your car, you get in and drive off.  Sounds like a sweet deal!  Well, apparently when they parked our car, they didn’t close the door all the way.  Our car sat in a parking lot for 10 days with the interior lights on.  Our battery was dead as could be.  Our driver has to bring his own car to come and pick us up.  When we get back, he tells us since it’s so late on a Sunday night he’s the only one working, and he just got 3 more calls.  He drops us off at our car, and has to head off to pick up more people.  Did I mention that it’s pouring down rain?  Yeah, I don’t think I did.  It’s pouring down rain, we’re sitting in a car with no power soaking wet, and I have a very unhappy and hungry bride on my hands.  After about an hour the guy returns with jumper cables and jumps us off.  I had to restrain my bride as she was about to say some things to this poor guy that he didn’t deserve.  He’s not the one that drove our car back, so he’s not the guy that left our door open.  The guy that drove the car back hadn’t showered in a few days, so maybe he thought he was doing us a favor by leaving the door cracked so the car could air out, IDK.
All kidding aside, we had an awesome time.  The place we stayed in San Juan was Beautiful!  Right on the beach.  Speaking of the beach in San Juan, the waves there are a bit worse than those we have in gulf.  I was doing a little body surfing and let’s just say that’s when I found out the elastic in my trunks isn’t as good as it should be…  A lot of fish saw my twig and berries.
Our first morning at the hotel we had a “War Eagle Moment”  We went down to have breakfast, it’s Saturday morning, game day.  The wife is decked out in her Auburn gear, and as we sit down, we hear a “War Eagle” come from behind us.  Turns out it’s another young couple celebrating an anniversary.  They both went to Auburn.  He came over from Belgium to play tennis, and she came from Atlanta.  They both said that they just fell in love with the area and with each other.  Believe it or not, when I stood next to this guy, I felt short!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Go West Young Man

It’s starting to feel a lot like Fall out there, I’m pretty excited.  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  One of my other favorite things is long distance driving in a box van.  If you follow me on twitter then you already know this, but a friend of mine moved from here, Valley Alabama, to Colorado Springs, CO a few weeks back.  My bride, being the caring, loving and giving person that she is, volunteered me to drive our friend’s belongings to CO for her.  Another friend was recruited and so we formed J&C Moving Co, where our motto is, “J&C Moving Co., we’re a lot like you’re prom date, real cheap and a little dirty”.
I must admit that I was pretty excited about making this drive.  For one, I got to drive through some cities and states that I’ve never visited before, and two, I knew it would be a great time making the drive with Mr. J of J&C moving Co.
Google maps told us it was going to take us around 24 hours to complete the drive, we had about a day and a half to complete the journey, so challenge accepted.  Our plan was to leave around 3:00 AM that Friday morning, and drive until around 8:00 or 9:00 PM, which should put us around Salina KS.  On paper, and Google maps, our timing should be spot on, but in Bridget the Budget the truck, not so much.  It took us a few hours longer to complete our first leg, and about 28 total hours to complete the trip.  
We hit the road around 3:15 am Friday morning and started our journey out west.  To make the trip more exciting we decided that we wouldn’t use Google Maps, Map Quest, or GPS.  We were going old school.  We stopped at rest stops and picked up free maps every time we entered a new state.  Now we know how Columbus felt, because there was nothing but vast nothingness when one map ran out and we hadn’t been able to stop to get the next map.  We also found that some of the maps weren’t quite correct as they had roads listed that were still under construction.  Where the map showed us merging onto an interstate, the onramp hadn’t been built yet.  Our solution?  Get off at the next exit and just start heading in the direction we think will get us on the correct road.  This spawned J&C’s next motto, “Excellence by accident” as we happened upon our road after a few narrow back roads and a couple of miles.
Our next excitement building task was to get random people to pose for pictures with us in the back of the truck.  This wasn’t all that well thought out.  People apparently will run when you ask them if they’d like to come and take some pictures with you on a couch in the back of a moving van.  But seriously, why did EVERYONE seem to think my name was “Stranger Danger”.  That’s just a terrible name and my parents should have been shot if they named me that!
Some of our more burly trucker friends weren’t as concerned and gladly hoped in the back of our box van for a photo op.  Maybe we were the ones that should have been concerned…
We also set a goal for ourselves that wouldn’t eat any chain restaurants, no McDonald’s, No Burger King, all mom and pop or local joints.  Diners, Drive in and Dives style.  Well around 4:50 am on Friday morning our stomach were talking to us, and there aren’t too many Mom and pop joints open at that hour.  So two hours into the journey we’d blown that goal.  We had to stop at the 24 hour drive thru of McDonald’s.  We did stop at a hole in the wall BBQ joint in Arkansas, but  by the time we stopped in Kansas the nice lady at America’s Best Value informed us that everything was either closing or closed except for the IHOP.  So IHOP it was, and the goal was trashed.
I don’t know if any of you guys have driven through Kansas, but we heard horror stories about it.  “Every time you see a gas station you need to stop and fill up, no matter how much gas you have.  You never know when you’ll see another gas station.”, “Might as well drive through KS at night because there’s nothing to see there.”, “KS is just a flat nothingness.”  Let me clear some of these rumors up, Bridget the Budget truck is here to tell you that KS is not all flat.  In fact, KS is a slow grade climb at just enough of an incline to keep Bridget from maintaining a constant speed.  Next, there are PLENTY of petrol stations in KS.  Even getting 9 miles to the gallon we were never worried about running out due to the lack of petrol stations.  If you were to drive through KS at night you would have missed the awesome billboard with Abe Lincoln and dinosaurs.  You would have also missed the Beautiful fields of sunflowers, the 3 foot tall donkey, and the roadside signs planted by the worlds angriest Christian.
The people of Oklahoma were the main trash talkers about KS, and from what I could tell, they have no room to talk smack.  OK was very flat and pretty boring.
Probably the highlight of our trip was around 4:30am on Friday morning as we were listening to some unknown radio station.  The song that was playing suddenly cuts out.  Silence, dead air, nothingness, the cardinal sin in radio.  Before we can reach up and start looking for a new station, the greatest moment in radio history happens.  The DJ’s mic is on and he has no idea.  We sat and listened to this DJ lose his job for close to an hour.  I know he violated several FCC regulations due to his colorful use of the English language, as well as admitting that he is currently cheating on his wife/girlfriend.  He also stated that he should write a book on cheating because he was so good at it.  We named our friend, Fired DJ.  Fired DJ had other classic lines that we’re not quite sure what they were in reference too since we could only hear one side of the conversation.  There was another person in the room that probably lost their job too.
Only two negative parts to our adventure, the first one was when we drove through Arkansas we were greeted by Hurricane Isaac and a lot of road work.  The second bad part of the trip was that our friend’s apartment was on the 3rd floor.  Hauling a persons belongings up three flights of stairs in the thin CO air is not a good time.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How not to bathe a cat

Our pets stay in the house, with the exception of the dog who has a pen in the back yard that she gets recess in during some afternoons.  Since our pets time outside of the house is very limited we’ve never had an issue with fleas, until this past weekend.  Somehow fleas have made it into our house.  This caused my bride to panic and rush me into action.  The dog, no problem at all, a quick bath, some flea drops, she’s on her way.  Our cats on the other hand…  
We were worried our neighbors were going to call the cops on us.  
My bride scoops up one the cats like a hero and proclaims that he needs to be bathed in flea shampoo.  She bravely takes our sweet little fuzz ball and places him in the sink.  What happened next, let’s just say there was a lot of screaming and a grey and white streak of lightning.  
Well, we can all see that bathing the cat has gone real well.  Now since my bride has failed she has handed the baton to me.  I grasp our slightly damp kitty and easily place him back into the sink.  I ease on the water, and start to wet his fur.  At this point I’m trying to hold a greased snake and not get bitten by it.  You would not believe the noises a cat will make when you’re trying to bathe it.  And the noises don’t stop, this is why we were worried about the law dogs being called on us.  The cat is screaming, which sets another cat in the house into a frenzy.  So now I have a screaming cat getting bathed, and a growling/hissing/meowing cat that has no idea why he’s so upset.  
Then the dog joins in, she wants to see what’s going on.  Growling/hissing/meowing cat doesn’t like happy dog at this point.  Now growling/hissing/meowing cat and previously happy dog are rolling around the floor in a WWE grudge match.  
At this point, I’ve lost my bride.  She’s scared of the fighting pets, scared of the screaming cat half wet in the sink, and laughing uncontrollably at the entire situation.  
Time for me to take control of the situation.  WWE pets roll my way, I gently separate them with my right foot and send them on their ways.  Screaming half wet cat sees this as his chance to make a run for it, he pops out of my grasp and leaps towards freedom. Quickly I turn my attention back to screaming damp cat snag him by his hind legs before freedom was obtained.  In a stern, but very loving voice I ask for some assistance from laughing bride and the shampoo for screaming now fully wet cat.  Laughing bride pours shampoo onto screaming cat, soaked Cas gently lathers the shampoo.  Laughing bride disappears, saying something about “I’m about to pee on myself”.  Soaked Cas is now left holding soapy screaming cat, growling/hissing/meowing cat has now returned to the party, happy dog has wondered off to find food.
Having rinsed off screaming cat I realize that in our haste we didn’t provide a towel to dry screaming cat.  Soaked Cas yells to Peeing bride to bring towel.  Towel is supplied, Screaming cat is clawing and biting white towel.  White towel is turning into red spotted towel.  Bleeding soaked Cas pats screaming wet cat with red spotted white towel as best as he can and releases screaming wet cat.  Screaming wet cat runs and hides, soaked bleeding Cas goes in search of medical supplies, growling/hissing/meowing cat is pacing circles in the kitchen, happy dog is still eating, laughing bride is still laughing.  Screaming now dry cat will still have nothing to do with me and hides as soon as I walk in the door.  
Most of the fleas are now under control.   I hope to never have to go through this again.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What was I thinking

Hello everyone, sorry for my lack of blogging here lately.  I had a great Easter weekend, but it went by way too fast!  But don’t all weekends?  Part of my weekend is still hanging around though.  I’m still a bit sore.  What kind of an idiot wakes up early on a Saturday, drives off into a remote wooded area, pays 25 dollars and crawls through the mud?  *This guy*  Have you guys ever heard of a mud run?  If not it’s basically a 5 or 10k through some of the nastiest stuff you can think of.  Only dummies need apply.

The run started out with an 8th of a mile sprint to stacked monster truck tires that had to be scaled.  Next we sprinted a little further to climb some steep hills.  After the hills we ran through our first little spot of mud.  *confession, I’m a bit of a pretty boy, I don’t play in the dirt, and I’m sure as heck not playing in the mud.  I tippy toed my way through the mud trying my best to stay clean and dry.  Mission accomplished, made it through with very minimal mud.  Next was a bit of a trail run through the woods.  At this point I’m thinking, this is so easy, the ground is giving me a less impact of a run then when I run on the road, there isn’t much mud, and the obstacles are fun!  While in these woods my mind started to change.

While frolicking through some, what I’ll call small puddles now, in the woods I started to see why this was called a mud run.  Again, I’m a pretty boy so running through these “puddles” was a big deal for me.  I’ll say there was about 6 inches of water and about 2 inches of mud in these puddles that ranged from 5 feet long to some around 30 feet long.  Again, I’m happy, smiling, having a great time.  Look at me, I’m in the mud, I’m a MAN!

I bust out of the woods and back into an open field.  Staring dead in front of me is a steep wall, about 20 or 25 feet tall that is made up of huge boulders.  Things are fun again!  I like climbing, I don’t like getting dirty.  I scale this wall with little effort.  What’s on the other side of wall is when things start to get interesting.  To get back down off this “mountain” I had to jump down a series of “stairs” that were each about 4 foot tall.  The bottom of each “stair” was nothing but mud.  Splish, splash, Cas almost fell on his a…  Yeah, so I somehow manage to stay pretty clean at this point, just some mud on my shoes and ankles.  Ladies and gentlemen, this was about to change.  Dead ahead of me was the soupiest, most foul smelling slop of mud I could ever have a nightmare about (to this point anyway, this will later be just a walk in the park).  This mud is so thick, the only way to make it through is to get on your belly and military crawl your way through.  The slop is about a foot thick, and feels like it has a thousand little hands pulling you down into the core of the earth.  With these tiny hands are a team of trolls trying to pull your shoes off.  In this mud pit I learned a life lesson, “when crawling through the mud behind someone, ALWAYS keep your mouth closed.”  A huge clump of this muck flew right off the shoe of the guy in front of me and straight down my throat.  At this point I almost coughed the mud back out, along with my breakfast.  *side note, I didn’t throw up during this race, but there were several others who felt the mud wasn’t nasty enough, so they added their breakfast to the mix.

Thankfully, right after this mud pit there was a water station!  I can wash my mouth out and keep on running.  I don’t know who the sick people are that organized this thing, but the water station was nothing more than a table with empty cups on it with cute girls standing behind it.  Not cool guys, not cool at all.  Let’s keep pressing on shall we?  After this mud pit things get back to being a little easier, some hills, small mud puddles, which at this point I’ve given up on my pretty boy status and I’m just plowing right through. 

They steer us back into the woods for some more of a trail run.  I like the trail runs.  This trail had a 3 foot deep creek in it, which surprising was a blessing because it washed the heavy mud off of me and slightly refreshed me.  Back out of the woods I burst feeling revived and ready to finish this race strong.  One more mile to go, I can do this!

And then… Let there be MUD.  Sweet Mary daughter of Mildred, this last mile is nothing but some of the most foul, thick, sloppy muck of mud I’ve ever seen.  I start out trying to run and not fall through only six inches of mud for about 50 yards.  Next we run over some grass and around a blind corner that they deviously have hidden a slop fest behind.  I turn this corner and what I see before me is what my old worst nightmares would be made of.  Two marines yelling at me to get down on my belly and craw in this foot thick patch of mud under this grid of strings, keep your butt down or Charlie’s going to shoot it off.  Now I’m thoroughly soaked and covered in as much mud as I think my body can hold, but BOY was I wrong, my body could hold much more mud as it was about to prove.

More small obstacles out of the way and I can see the finish line.  There at the top of that hill I see the gallery, people cheering, a water table where people are getting cups that are filled with water, all I have to do is climb this hill and prance my pretty boy self over the finish line.  Oh how it seems so easy.  Remember the thick mud filled with the thousand little hands and trolls?  Well those were apparently the mud babies.  This mud is where the strong adults live.  I take off trying to climb this hill and as I’m only a quarter of the way up the thousands of hands have grabbed me and they’re much stronger than I am.  The much stronger trolls are able to easily slip my shoes off my feet and drag them down deep into their mud layer.  Fighting with all my strength I’m able to reclaim my left shoe and get it partially back on my foot, the right shoe was recovered shortly thereafter.  Now, all I have to do is gather the strength to break the grasp of these thousand hands pulling me down.  It’s impossible to move my legs, I fear that I’m stuck and that I will die here on this muddy hill with the finish line and a cool cup of water painfully close.  Then like the voice of God booming down from heaven I hear “Get down and crawl it’s much easier”  Heeding the advice I fall face first into the mud and start to pull with my arms as I push with my legs.  I’m moving, I feel the hands releasing me from their grasp, I’m going to make it, they won’t take me down and put me in some sort of mud POW camp.  As I top the hill to a point where I’m able to once again stand, I see 100 yards of hell between me and the finish line.  My spirit is broken, I stand and look disheartened at the final 100 yards as it starts to expand to 100 miles away.  Through my fog I hear the cheering of all my fans yelling for me to finish.  Slowly I put one 10 pound mud covered foot in front of the other and make my push for the finish line.  VICTORY!  I finished my mud run, 3.2 miles of pure fun and abuse.

And you want to know what's the worst part of a mud, other than completely ruining your clothes?  Having to get on your father in laws roof the next day to fix his ridge cap.  Climbing the roof and putting my fresh cuts down on those hot shingles really lets you know how much damage you just did to your body.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One 5k down

I never thought I’d see the day where I was looking forward to spending a day of my weekend running.  But last weekend I participated in my first 5k.  I had a blast.  Notice I said participated in and not ran in.  I did a walk/run type deal.  It was my first 5k cut me some slack and stop laughing at me.  Anyway, the race was for one of my wife’s friends who has a little 8 year old girl with brain cancer.  My resolution this year was to run at least one 5k, what better way to meet that resolution than to run one that’s supporting a cause close to us.  Over 600 people showed up to run, and I’m slower than half of them.  Let me tell you who all I’m slower than.  A 60 year old hippy, he beat me by a solid 20 minutes, a 8 year old girl in a tutu and a boa beat me by a solid 20 minutes, some military cadets bested me by more minutes than I wish to admit.  It’s ok though, I finished, I pushed through to the end.  I only let my fat swollen cankle slow me down a little bit.  That’s right I said cankle.  For some strange reason my left ankle just starts swelling on its own when I run.  I’ve got pictures to prove it if you want to be grossed out.  It also didn’t help that I miss timed my eating.  I was scared to eat too close to the start of the race, and so I ended up missing what I thought would be my window to eat.  After about a mile down my stomach started to growl and I was having to fight hunger pains, as well as fight to breath.  My only saving grace was the nice cool breeze I felt every time some highly trained sponsored professional athlete went flying by me.  And when I say highly trained sponsored professional athlete what I mean is 8 and 9 year old little girls, or soccer moms pushing double strollers.  Another way to tell if they’re a professional is if they take the cup of water, and drink while running.  I took the exchange cleanly, one step closer to being a pro, then I proceeded to completely miss my mouth with the water as I tried to drink and run.  Drinking through your nose while trying to run is not something I would suggest to anyone.  But the cool water splashing on my face, chest and legs was almost as refreshing as jumping into a cool pool on a hot summers day, complete with sucking half the pool up through your nose.  After ingesting half a sip of water through my mouth and a huge gulp through my nose, I discarded the cup and kept on trucking.
At the end of the race you were given a choice, they hand you a bottle of water and a free banana, OR you could go and pay to eat a chick-fil-a sandwich.  Guess what this guy opted for?  That’s right, nothing caps off a good run like a fried chicken sandwich.  But one $3.50 fired chicken sandwich just wasn’t enough to fill this huge void in my gut.  So we headed straight from the race with my racing gear still on, number on my chest and all, to Steak and Shake where I devoured a poor unsuspecting Frisco Melt, cookies and cream milk shake, and fries.
I don’t know how much money was raised for Tori, but I hope whatever it was it really helps the family. 
If you want to see why I ran, please check out this video.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm a Diva, and I'm Dashing

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while.  But I have a good reason.  I’ve been busy at work, and I’ve been training to run my very first 5k, Diva Dash .  Tomorrow, March 23rd, I’ll lace up my shoes and huff and puff my way through a 5k.  I have no delusions that I will run this entire race.  With my swollen ankle and shin splints I’ll be lucky to run one continuous mile.  But I’ll be out there giving it my all.
Why did I choose Diva Dash as my first 5k you ask?  It’s a fund raiser for this amazing little girl who is battling brain cancer.  She is also the daughter of one of my bride’s friends.  My goal has been to run a 5k this year, but I had no idea I’d be running one this soon.  As soon as I heard about Diva Dash, though, I said I was in.  I figured if this girl can fight brain cancer, my old out of shape butt can go and suffer through 3.2 miles of attempted running.
Please watch this short video, it gives her amazing journey and shows just how awesome of a little girl Tori is. It relays her story much better than I ever could in a blog post.

 She has a carepage if you want to follow her journey more closely.  Just search for Tori Svenson.  It has some amazing stories about her journey and a list of Celebs that she’s met and touched.  From Atlanta Braves 2nd basemen, to American Idol finalist.  You can’t meet this girl and not fall instantly in love with her.  She also has some other videos on youtube so if you’re bored get a tissue and watch them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Year of the house

So, I’m sure everyone is wondering where in the world Cas has been?  Well, I’ll tell you where I’ve been.  I’ve been working.  Not only at my job, but also at the house.  2012 is the year of the house.  Little known fact, my bride and I have been in our house for just over three years and we are yet to put any paint on the walls, the horror.  We’ve painted a thing or two in the house,furniture and such, but the walls are all the same bland color that it was when we purchased the house.  So that being said, we’re forcing ourselves to customize our house and make it our own.  Now I can read everyone’s mind, you’re all thinking, “Well what have you done so far?”  Thanks for asking, below I will show you!  There is a lot more to come folks so hold onto your seat! 

The first thing we did was get rid of our old pantry system that we hated so much.
See how cluttered that is?  With only 3 shelves we were limited in our organization.
Look at all this crap we had crammed in there!

But thanks to our good friends at IKEA we put in a new shelving unit and was able to cram even more crap into the pantry!
Next we decided to move our climbing rose to block our storage building from the road.  Sorry I forgot to take a before picture, it’s just an ugly metal building.  So I built an 8x8 foot lattice wall for the rose to climb on.
Now we just need to move the rose and that project will get the done stamp.
Then last month I was walking through the Home Depot and I noticed in the end cap they had a section of doors for over 200 dollars off retail.  And wouldn’t you know it, it’s the exact door I wanted.  Not the door the wife wanted, but at the price she couldn’t argue with me.  After fighting with someone who thought that just because they had already paid for the door that fit my house they could have it, I brought the door home.  You read that right, the door I bought had already been purchased by someone else and put on hold.  I had the Home Depot call the guy and convince him that he didn’t really want the door as bad as I did.
Here is the old ugly door.
*Side note about the old door.  I knew it wasn't installed correctly, but I had no idea just how poorly it was installed.  When I ripped it out the hole I was shocked!  Not one shim was used, and they didn't even glue the threshold! 
And here is the new door, before it was painted.  I need to get a picture of it painted, it looks much better black.

I also framed in a larger floor space in our tiny attic to store some stuff that is crammed in closets to make them a little more usable. 
As we complete more projects I’ll keep everyone posted.  Hopefully by the end of 2012 you guys will have seen a complete home transformation at the Smith House.  *Curse you pinterest for adding even more projects to my todo list!