Monday, 02 October 2006

I remember I can’t explain

At the end of last week, near around Friday, I decided to take the matter of a niggling error message lefty’s installation of postfix was sending: warning: connect to transport procmail: Connection refused. Signing up to was worse than useless. I’m sure part of it was my own ignorance (maybe all of it), but I was pretty explicit that there were no references to procmail as a transport in my file and no one was able to tell me (or hear me) how postfix might specify a transports outside of Ultimately, my problems began when I followed a MacOSX Hints article explaining how to use procmail as a filter for outgoing mail. After borking my mailserver, I tried changing things Back to the Way They Were™. Not until 1 pm EST on 29 September did I notice postfix was complaining once a minute every minute about procmail.

So I tried and tried.

On Sunday I was fed up with my inability to understand the postfix-user gurus and/or the postfix-user gurus deafness to the specifics of my unusual case and decided to roll lefty back to 25 July 2006. I was especially anxious and determined because two attempts to use CCC (as a roll-forward) failed. The bulk of the rollback took six hours (9 am to 3 pm, which I actually predicted in my email to the lone user of lefty’s services). There was a scary moment when I’d realized that I’d lost the changes to lefty’s MySQL tables, but I yanked the data from the incomplete backup and overwrote the older MySQL data. Result: lefty good to go and postfix stopped complaining. I have no idea what caused the problem in the first place.

I was unhappy I had to spend so much of my weekend dealing with yet another problem. I suppose I could have let the whole issue go because postfix was only issuing a warning and the only downside I could see was the addition of 40,000 lines to /var/log/mail.log. Still. Rolling back and successfully interpellating the crucial changes I’d made to my own user folder, to /Library/System/StartupItems (a firewall), to the system crontab, to Apache, and to my DNS server was reassuring and confidence-building.

But what about my research? What about my class? What about this beautiful fall weather?

Lately, I’m starting to recognize that my research is in tension with my personal writing which is why I turned to writing when I was a teenager living in my mother’s house. Reading and writing saved my life and carried me through a tumultuous early college experience. Journaling has been with me through everything and I want to give more, not less, energy to it. After sleeping, eating, teaching, exercising, and personal writing, research occupies too low a space on my hierarchy of needs because, really, my desire to return to research burns like fire. small numbskull

Thursday, 05 October 2006


I ripped the article up today. Actually, I shredded the dissertation chapter that is going to be an article. I’m lucky that I never experience pain during this process. Cutting stuff and building bridges is easy and comforting.

The part of scholarly writing that causes the most anxiety for me is remembering. I read lots of stuff and encounter hundreds of ideas in a week. Many of them are not only intriguing but also well-expressed. Others not so much. When generating new prose or revising many of these ideas come flooding back into my brain but they are unanchored. They’re not available to me in quotable form. I often can’t remember where the idea came from.

I believed Tinderbox would alleviate the difficulty and ameliorate the arduousness of that process, but after shredding my article and interleaving it with notes about what needs to be generated and what needs to be researched, I’m concerned that Tinderbox will be of little use. I dread poring over material I’ve already read looking for those several sentences I know are somewhere (I mean, I saw them just a minute ago!) mostly because the search is rarely easy and it often fails.

But I will find out tomorrow when I open the file and begin searching the articles I’ve Tinderboxed in the last part of the summer.

My stomach feels like it’s made of cotton balls. small numbskull