Toby posts

And we’re back

I haven’t posted anything on this site since 2011. My “professional” site and related blog took my attention as I focused on my career. In 2011, this site was hosted from my home on an iBook. That server probably was taken down within a couple years of that post when I moved and didn’t bother trying to get it back up and running. By that point, I had my “professional” site on a shared host (Dreamhost) and liked what it had to offer. I no longer had to worry about keeping my IP updated with DynDNS or the downtime from internet outages (common with my Windstream DSL), server problems, router problems, etc.

This site was down for a period, but at some point I migrated it over to my Dreamhost server. I started it at After a while, I decided it needed its own domain and would be a good candidate for a .name domain, so I bought The site was still not fully functional though. Some pages and sections were completely broken, and for a while I couldn’t log into the WordPress install this blog is run with.

Recently, I went through and got most things working and threw a more recent, responsive theme (Twenty Fifteen) onto the blog. A few sections still don’t work. I may have lost the data for the almost never used forums. The gallery is run by software that shared photos from my iPhoto library, no longer possible on shared hosting. I may replace these at some point, though I would probably only put the forum back in a read-only mode for posterity.

Anyway, this site is old and outdated. Some of the information is inaccurate. At some point soon, I intend to replace it with something new, probably something built on Symfony. I hope to merge the code-base and some of the content of my “professional” and personal sites, though in appearance and most content they will remain separate to serve their own purposes most effectively. I will leave this site as is on a sub-domain for posterity. As with most of my personal projects, who knows when I will actually get to it, but I have been itching to play with some things that I don’t get to at work.

As to this blog, I hope to get back into the habit of writing for it. I’ve put a lot of focus on my career lately, but miss thinking and writing about some of my other interests. It can be somewhat therapeutic to write down my ideas or about things happening in my life. Lately, my interest in homes and architecture has been coming back. Hopefully, this blog will be seeing me as regularly as it once did and my thoughts will be archived for my future self and others.

Applied for Job: Bluestar

Angela Berlingeri, my instructor for my Web II class, forwarded me an email about a potential PHP developer job at  There weren’t any details about the job, including information about what skill levels and sets were required, so I went ahead and sent my resume.  Julia Brigg sent me an email fairly quickly saying she might have an entry level position (the kind I’d need) in the near future.  Yay.

She also forwarded my resume to an associate, who called me immediately.  He needed a full time developer, which would conflict with my schooling, so I was unable to meet his need.  But he did say that he might be interested once I graduate.  Yay again.

Suddenly I have some job prospects here.  That is a good thing.  I was just starting to get a little concerned about going through my savings.  This was by far my most positive job application yet.

Dwight moved out

After a year and a half of living with me, my roommate Dwight finally moved out. His girlfriend got a “real” job in Texas, so he moved down there with her. His stay here was supposed to be temporary, but he liked the low living expenses so much he decided to stay.

This has been quite a change for me. The change in my cost of living is quite significant: My basic expenses will increase by an estimated 34%, not a small number. This is at a time when I’m about to lose my job. I have money saved, and could easily get a job at a restaurant in no time I’m sure, but it still could be rough, especially on some of my planned extra type expenditures.

Living alone is quite different from living with someone. There was someone there most of the time to do stuff with before, but now I have to put effort into finding someone to do stuff with, especially since I no longer have any real friends (he was the only one that I actually did stuff with excluding family). He had a good collection of movies and frequently rented some, so we often watched them. We also played card and other games. It was nice to have an additional person to help with some stuff: It meant I didn’t have to always be there to look for and deal with everything. It can be very lonely sitting at home alone.

Of course, it can be nice as well. I can have lots of alone time without worrying about someone popping in. Dwight could be quite the talker and sometimes would talk for hours, sometimes about things I wasn’t especially interested in. The dishes were a shared duty and they ended up being quite a mess as well as a lot of work. My house is much cleaner now and I plan to keep it that way.

On the cleaner note, I have moved some of the stuff from my front room into his old bedroom. The front room had been piled with stuff and virtually unusable, but now it is rather clean. It will be an entertainment room (video, board, and card games, chairs to chat, etc). His old room is rather clean still as well, and may become an office. I hope to get rid of a lot of stuff and make the house cleaner still.

We’ll see how this works out.

Oil change trouble

After running through a few tanks to see the pre-change MPG of my Saturn, I changed the oil to a synthetic high MPG formulation. I had used the same oil in my Corolla and had noticed a definite increase, and wanted to verify that this increase was indeed happening. I haven’t verified the increase yet.

Unfortunately, the oil change itself was the worst I’ve ever done. It probably took me at least three hours. I had to clean some oil spilled from my leaky oil catcher pan. The biggest time consumer, though, was the filter: It was on there ridiculously tight and the Saturn has almost no space around it. I ended up stabbing it in numerous places with a screwdriver, hurting my hand, and getting soaked in oil. A filter wrench finally did it.

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My new car

After my car died, I went looking for a car. I had to borrow my roommate’s car many times and my dad’s car while he was on vacation. I even rode my bicycle 20+ miles to work one day, though my roommate picked me up for the trip home. It took me over a month to make my decision.


I had wanted to get a small stickshift hatchback a little smaller than my Corolla that would be able to get a little better gas mileage. Unfortunately, it was hard to find a model within my price range that actually fit my requirements. I spent a lot of time looking at craigslist,,, and others.

I called and emailed a number of private sellers, but never ended up going to see one. They seem harder to deal with, as you have to set up a time to meet and all, and then can’t take the car unless the title place is opened or they’ve already got their title notarized. I also visited a great many lots and test drove a number of cars.

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My corolla finally died

Due to its rust and general shape, my Corolla has looked liked it was on its way out since I bought it from my brother. Five years later, it finally went out. It could perhaps have been fixed, but I didn’t think it was worth it.

The death

On my last day of school for the Spring semester, on the way home from class (in the campus parking lot in fact), I ran over a curb (I was tired). I drove all the way home with no problems. Later that day I headed toward my parents’ house, but soon after I made a turn (Akron Cleveland onto 303) my car started sliding on the front right tire. Due to a warning that the tie-rod ends were in bad shape, I was expecting something would happen. I slid over to the side of the road (digging a deep tire mark and gathering some asphalt on my tire).

I discovered my tire at quite an angle, and found the driveshaft to be disconnected from the transmission. I called my Dad, and he headed over to take a look. I called the tow truck right after that. A cop showed up and asked me about what happened. He attempted to help me push the car over fully off the road, but it didn’t move, even when he used his car. So he decided to park behind me with his flashers so no one would hit me. My dad showed up and took a look, and determined that it probably wasn’t salvageable.

After a lot of waiting, the tow truck guy finally showed up. He drove me and my car back home. He said a lot of cars had had an axle problem that week. We dropped my car off in front of my house, where it stayed for over a month (until after I got my new car). Parking was a little difficult with it there.

The problem

I jacked it up and looked closely underneath it after several weeks. I finally determined what had happened. The frame had cracked where one of the arms connects that holds the wheel in place. The wheel twisted out a bit without its support, pulling the axle out of the transmission. The support could have been welded, but the frame was pretty rusted at that point, and a new frame piece almost would have been needed. The whole car was too rusted anyway, and I had been planning to get a new car after my issues in the winter. That car had a lot of issues in its time, though I suppose they weren’t so bad to deal with (the most difficult problems were probably the numerous busted brake lines).


She sold for $75 to a tow truck company, with extra door trim bits and haynes and chiltons guides included. She has been replaced by my new car.

A real hair cut

After at least three years of letting my hair grow out, I’ve cut it. It was down to my shoulders, but now it’s probably three inches at its longest point, much shorter on the back and sides. I wanted it to be a little longer than it is, and will have to let it grow out to get where I want it.

I started by cutting it myself, and got it just about to where I wanted it in general appearance. Unfortunately it was a bit uneven. After much effort, my roommate convinced me to get it cut professionally the rest of the way. $13 for just the last bit of a haircut. Oh well, it certainly got cleaned up. The girl there quickly recognized it as a home cut, and did her best to preserve the look I was going for. Unfortunately, she cut a bit much off in the back and on the sides, especially around the ears.

It’s sometimes strange having the short hair, but sometimes I don’t even notice it. When I put on a hat or lean back in a chair, I often attempt to take into account my pony tail, but it’s not there. Unfortunately, without the pony tail, my bangs now frequently end up in my eyes. My hair is quite unruly and won’t stay combed back. It poofs up, especially at the top back, very easily. I’m going to need to find a solution for the eye issue, perhaps I’ll be forced to use some gel or something on occasion. At least my hair doesn’t get caught in things, blow in my face with the wind, or end up in my mouth when I’m eating.