I want to apologize to the anonymous poster whose comment rubbed me the wrong way last night, sparking a little more snark that I usually use in my comments here. It turns out he/she did not mean the comment the way I took it, and therefore didn't deserve my snark. It was your standard case of someone misunderstanding something on the internet. I should have applied my general rule about assuming the best, not the worst, and I did not.
So, Anonymous: I'm sorry. And anonymous commenters, in general- you are welcome to comment here. Unless you're the spambot that is currently hitting a lot of my old posts (and getting caught by the spam filters). In that case, please move on. I get all the spam comments in my email inbox, and I'm tiring of them.
Also, to all my lovely academic readers: I am glad you're here, and your perspectives are always welcome. I am gratified that you find my musings interesting/helpful/diverting/whatever makes you read them. It has been roughly 13 years since I was in academia, and I do not necessarily expect my thoughts on work, life, the universe, and everything to seem relevant to people who are working in such a different environment. Please don't take my snark last night as an indication that I do not welcome you on this blog. If anything, just take it as a reminder that I am not writing primarily about academia.
And now, for the reason I was so short-tempered last night: I had to throw away a bunch of books. Not give away. Throw away. Why? Because they were so covered in mold that I did not think they were salvageable. I have another bag of slightly molded books to give away and another two bags that I desperately want to save. So if you have tips for de-molding books (mostly paperbacks- the hardcovers seemed to have been more resistant), leave them in the comments. Right now, my plan is to put them out in the sun for a while, and then try to vacuum and brush the mold off.
The mold came about because my house lacks insulation. It was built in the 50s, and apparently the consensus back then was that San Diego houses didn't need to be insulated. But, we have a heater which we use in the winter to keep the house at a pleasant 68 or 70 degrees, depending on whether I'm in one of my periodic delusions about how a warmer house will help my children sleep better. I confess: I would heat my house to 90 degrees if I thought it would make my children sleep better. Sorry, planet. I'm tired.
Anyway, when the warm inside air hits the cold wall* moisture forms on the wall and mold grows. We've known about the mold for a few years, and I've known the solution for well over a year. We needed to add insulation to our walls. But we are only now doing that, which is pretty pathetic when you consider the fact that I have mild asthma and am allergic to many molds. In our defense, the mold only grows for a few months of the year, and it is easy to clean off the walls. Also, a borax wash seemed to be doing a hafway decent job of keeping it from coming back. (Feel free to laugh at my stupidity now as you see the weakness in this approach.)
Still, I was tired of cleaning mold off walls once a year, and wanted it fixed for good, so I finally got around to finding someone to add insulation to our house. The insulation guys have been at our house for the past two days drilling little holes in our walls, blowing insulation into the holes, then patching the holes and painting them to match the walls. Last night, we prepped our office/guest room for the work, and my husband decided to get ambitious and go ahead and pull the CD and bookshelves away from the wall. The amount of mold on the back of the shelves was horrifying. So horrifying that we decided it would be easier to just buy a new Billy shelf from IKEA rather than clean the one we have. I decided to pull my books off the shelves and store them until we could get to IKEA. And then I discovered that there was also mold on the front of the backing to the bottom two shelves of books, and many of my books were moldy.
As I said, I'm hoping to save some of them. I hope I can, because while I enjoy owning de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Darwin's On the Origin of Species (artifacts from my college days), I can't really justify going out and buying new copies, particularly when I can get them on the Kindle for free. Sniff.
Add to that the fact that I have a bunch of interesting (at least to me) posts that I want to write and another writing project I want to work on, but was instead spending the evening shoving my increasingly stuffy nose into books to try to determine how moldy they were... and you can probably appreciate why I was grumpy. In general, the "chores" part of my life is crowding the "fun" part a little too much these days, and the "kids" part is squeezing out the "me" part more than I'd like. Neer mind work-life balance, maybe I need to write a post on life-life balance, because honestly, that is where my issues seem to lie right now.