Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Not My Thai, Too!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My favorite Thai restaurant is closing.
At least, according to rumors I’ve heard from a reliable source, the family that has run Paddy Thai since before I came to Houston is retiring and going back to Thailand. Sadly, though understandably, they have chosen not to sell the business to someone they neither know nor trust and are just shutting down. At the end of the year! Yikes! So, you have roughly two-and-a-half weeks to get to Paddy Thai and get the best Thai food this side of the International Dateline.
Now, please, understand, I am not exaggerating at all when I write that this is the best Thai food ever. I’ve had Thai all over this city and the entire US, but nothing compares to this. The restaurant itself is small and rather unassuming. A quaint, candle-lit Thai-style house, shrouded by palm trees and tucked in-between two larger buildings, this little gem is one of the best-kept culinary secrets in Houston. Sadly, there won’t be enough good weather to eat outside on the front porch, enjoying the cool breezes of an early Houston Spring, but, if that were the only place to sit and get their Mus-Man Beef, it would be worth it. All their beef dishes melt in your mouth and if super-spicy Mus-Man isn’t your thing, then they have several curries that are worthy of a last meal.
I usually start with their chicken satay, which is so tender that it glides off the skewers, and peanut sauce. Often, I order spring rolls, too, just so I can soak up the rest of the unique peanut sauce left over from the satay. Then, if I’m feeling brave, I’ll order the white-hot “Tiger Cries”, which is a beef dish that, would indeed, make a tiger cry. If I’m not able to drink copious amounts of Singha to drown that burn, I’ll get their Chicken in Peanut Sauce (just for that sauce!) or their Beef Ginger. If I’m feeling like seafood, I might get the sweeter Garlic Shrimp or the more interesting Shrimp Basil, which I can’t remember seeing on anyone else’s menu. I’ve also enjoyed their unique “Steamed Mussels in Clay Pot”, which is actually served in a fired clay pot. Then, dessert….
Oh, dessert at Paddy Thai is worth the trip all by itself. In season, the mangoes with sweet rice are just the thing to end a perfect meal. The ladies always laugh when I ask them to tell me how they cut those mangoes so well and evenly! I’ve almost lost fingers at home trying to duplicate their best dessert! And, no matter how many places I have sweet rice and Thai egg custard, it’s never been better than here. Add a Thai coffee to that, so you can stay up into the wee hours talking with whomever you thought was special enough to share this hidden treasure and you have my idea of a near perfect evening.

I’ve never had a bad meal at Paddy Thai and I’ve never heard anyone ever complain, either. When I lived inside the 610 Loop, I found any excuse I could to jet over there for dinner. For the longest time, the sisters who ran the restaurant knew me on sight and could probably predict what I would order, too! These two tiny women are so full of life and energy that you can’t help but smile at them as they make recommendations. They’re never wrong, though, sometimes, they underestimate just how much a Westerner can pack away at one sitting. Thankfully, their entrees are better after they’ve sat in the fridge for a day or two. Oh, and then, you get to relive the culinary ecstasy!
Yes, I definitely need to get back there before the end of the month.
But, now, I think I need a cigarette.

“Well, okay, but..”

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:21 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

“I may have to blow up the building.”
Why does my life have to look so much like Office Space? Why?
So, I’m talking to the boss today about the new Linux server that we desperately need, trying to confirm that we will, in fact, order this essential piece of equipment before the end of the year, when the quotes expire, and I get…
“Well, if not by then, shortly after.”
“Ah, you do realize that those quotes expire at the end of the year, right?”
“And then the prices will change…”
“Well, tell them that any deep discounts would be appreciated.”
“Uh, those were already in those quotes. After the first of the year, the prices go up.”
“How much?”
“Um, not sure, but a lot.”
“Oh, well, find out. Maybe it will make the MoneyGuy go faster.”

To quote Charlie Brown, and mix my metaphors, “AAAARRRRRGGGHH!!”
And, all this without Chotchkie’s or Jennifer Aniston. Life is not fair.
All I can say is, no one better try to take my Red Swingline Stapler.

Hail Mary!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, this is not one of my infamous religious posts.
Actually, this is a technical post. Thursday this past week started like any other. “Jim, do this, ” and “Jim, I need that” and “Hey, Jim, should this computer be smoking this way?” A standard day in the life of a stand-alone IT department. Then, things turned ugly. Every call became “Hey, Jim, is there something wrong with this network share?” And, I finally put two and two together to get five and, sadly, discovered that the Linksys EFG-120 Network Attached Storage device had curled up its toes and died.
Luckily, the important stuff is all backed up, but not everything on that drive is “important” enough to hit the limited backup we have. So, it was time for the Network Geek to go into action. I started, as always, with a reboot. Nada. Well, I thought the NAS was Windoze based, since it was a mapped drive on the crusty, old Windows NT server I’ve been limping along here, so I reboot it again. Still nothing. So, thinking at a moderate pace, I decided to try and reseat the drive in the device. One small problem: the NAS is locked and no one has a key. Luckily, a little thing like a locked door has never been more than a temporary impediment to me, so I start banging away at the lock with my LEATHERMAN Pocket Survival Tool. After a few minutes, I managed to bust the drivetray out of its slot without damaging the case and reseat the drive. Crank it up and… Still nada. Damn, I thought to myself. Gonna’ be one of those days.
So, I tell the Boss about it. Boss says, do what you can and let me know. Great. I try getting the drive into an external drive case and hooking it up to his firewire hub on his Mac. Can you guess what we got? Yeah, nada. Right, well, I’m not ready to give up because, well, I’m a tad obsessive about this kind of thing. Sure, that makes me a little hard to deal with in the World, but in my job, obsession is definately a trait to be desired.
Next, I try hooking it up to my machine and seeing if Windows 2000 can see the partition and fix what’s wrong. What’d I get? Nunca nada. Not done, yet, though. I dig out a copy of PartitionMagic. I make the disks and boot into that freaky, specialized operating environment to see if I could fix the broken disk partition. See, I’m figuring that it’s just the File Allocation Table that’s decided to take a vacation. PartitionMagic is totally scoop at restoring those kinds of things, which is why I gave it a whirl. Sadly, nada. Well, not quite nada, since I was at least able to see that the damaged partition seemed to be a Linux partition of some kind. AhHa!
So, now, I install the drive into a Linux machine I keep under my desk, just in case of emergencies. I duck in and tell the Boss what I have in mind. He gives me a funny look and says,”Well, that’s a bit of a Hail Mary, isn’t it?” Well, yeah, it was, but isn’t that what I get paid for? To come up with and implement “Hail Marys”? And, if it works, who cares what crazy thing I have to do? Anyway, after the update to the Boss, it was off to the Linux machine to attempt a partition recovery, the hard way. Whoops! I had forgotten I canablized the drive in that machine to fix another problem weeks ago! Damn. So, I install Ubuntu on it, mainly because I have the ISO downloaded and can quickly burn an install CD. Well, Ubuntu goes to the Internet to find an archive server to download the install files, so that takes all night. Still, I figured, I’d come in early and bang this out in no time. Well, my head-shrink says I live in fantasy too much, so, it shouldn’t surprise my readers to know that it was far from easy. For an hour Friday morning, I ran every disk repair or recovery program I could find that came with a standard install of Linux. Guess what I got? Yeah, bubkes. (That’s Yiddish for nada.)
So, after all that, I still ended up formatting the drive and letting the restore run. Oh, did I mention that it was a Maxtor? For you non-geeks reading this, Maxtor 80 Gig drives have the highest fail-rate I’ve ever seen in the field. Everyone has problems with them. Well, this was a Maxtor 120 Gig drive, but I’m afraid that the same luck holds true to them, too.
Hmm, sounds like it’s time to order that new server I’ve been asking for, doesn’t it?

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel."

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