March 2, 2009

Raising a stink

My home office stinks right now. It's a temporary "new plastic object" stink from the large inflatable ball I'm sitting on in an effort to strengthen my back muscles and keep me from being completely sedentary while typing.

My on-campus office stank this morning. The electricity went out in the building sometime over the weekend, and somehow the HVAC smelled not only as if an animal had died in the ductwork but that someone had newly painted the dead animal as well. So I spent most of 6 hours figuring out how to conduct some work well away from the building. (If I were of a conspiratorial mental bent, I'd assume this was connected with the fact that my Outlook installation hasn't been able to connect with my campus account in about 3-4 months... but I found a workaround for that, and I figure an hour or two of lost work from moving around isn't a tragedy. And the staff were the ones stuck in the building for their work.)

There are two glorious thing about these stinks, however. One is that they are likely to be temporary. Offgassing plastic is highly unpleasant, but it ends. I know, I know; I'm ruining various organs in my body. But I like my back muscles, and I'd like them to like me back. Tradeoffs... And there are enough faculty, staff, and students who traipse through my ugly yellow-brick campus building that getting the HVAC working right will be a priority. 

The second glorious thing about these stinks is that I can smell them. Yes, this is an improvement in my quality of life, at least compared to last Tuesday, when several people told me I looked like death warmed over. By Friday, I was death microwaved. Today, I think I'm at least room-temperature.

But there's the other side of this; too many people work in fairly-permanently stinky buildings. (The official term is "sick building syndrome," but mold stinks.) I hope that the stimulus funding for renovations addresses the buildings on my campus, on my wife's long-term school campus, and other places where it can be permanently unhealthy to work or study.

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Tags: olfactory, sick building syndrome, stimulus
Posted in Education policy on March 2, 2009 11:47 PM |