Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Days are busy

So. Monday morning, got up, started working out. I had the AC on even though it wasn't super hot out (still, 70 degrees F at 4:45 am - that's still too warm too early, IMHO). It was very humid. So I wanted to suck some of the humidity out of the air so I could breathe.

And then, I realized: hey, the temperature went UP. That's never good.

When I finished the workout I went outside to look at the AC unit because I had a suspicion.

Yeah. That son of a gun would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator Yeah, it had iced up.

So I sighed, turned it off, and made plans to call the "guy" who takes care of such things. I also decided to set the appointment for THIS afternoon, because lab and piano lesson.

I taught as usual but wound up having to teach my lecture class sitting down - for some reason I couldn't catch my breath (asthma - and it's super humid in the classrooms) and so rather than feeling like I might pass out or having to stop and kind of gasp every five minutes, I sat down. (This is the class where most of the students seem to care about the subject, so it wasn't chaos).

Taught afternoon lab. I felt slightly better during that, perhaps because I had eaten (apparently in some people one of the meds I'm on can play heck with your blood sugar if you've gone a while without a meal) but also because whatever it was (possibly a cramp in the intercostal muscles; I get them sometimes) had passed.

Went home, picked up a few things and was practicing in preparation for the lesson. AC place called - there's an opening, would I like them to come out now? I said yeah, even as I got nervous about the idea of someone banging around on the AC unit while I was trying to have my lesson (but as it turned out, he got done before my teacher arrived).

Diagnosis: trying to run the thing while it was too cool out plus I need to change the filter more often. (I had been changing it every 2 months or so, but the guy said, "it's a little small for the unit so it clogs up faster" Good to know but gah, so tired of jerry-rigged things. This setup was installed long before I bought the place). The unit seems to still be OK but will someday need to be replaced. The guy told me that regulations were changing and after this year, 13 SEER units would no longer be available and the higher-SEER units would be "20% or so more expensive" (Then again: when my dad and I discussed it once, he thought it made sense to pay more for a higher SEER unit, because energy saving over the long run. I don't know. I just want to be cool in the summer. I mean - they could make a super-efficient unit by having it set so it wouldn't run as much in peak hours and let the house heat up. But if the higher SEER is more efficient and keeps the house reasonably comfortable - I'm willing to pay for that.)

Still, he seemed to think I didn't have to make that decision immediately unless I wanted one of the remaining lower-SEER models.

He did say that the disruption to my life would be minimal (one guy I had out once was like OMGWTFBBQ WE WILL HAVE TO PUT A NEW UNIT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE TREES AND WE WILL HAVE TO REDO ALL THE DUCTWORK and I was like NO, because of the cost and because being without AC and with guys crawling all over the house for a week makes my skin crawl.

So, I don't know. If my summer classes make I might hire the guy to replace the unit, though doing it in the summer is not ideal. (I suppose I could do it early fall, if I don't care about the cheaper lower-SEER models)

If I were really willing to deal with a lot of workpeople, I'd look into one of those whole-house dehumidifiers that I've heard about; really my biggest problem spring and fall is not heat, it's humidity, and I can tolerate a hotter temperature if it's not sticky.

Aside: does anyone have a favorite place they mail-order filters from? My filter is an odd size (12 x 20) and not all the stores carry it. (The Lowe's in town does not, the Wal-Mart sometimes does not....the Kroger's in Sherman, oddly, does, and so though they're more expensive there, I sometimes wind up buying them there).

I'd really like the get the "allergen defense" ones. The Lowe's offered to order some for me and they did, but they were really crummy cheap filters that didn't block dust or allergens. (I suppose the "allergen defense" ones do clog up faster, but....)

Amazon had them at one time but if there were a specialized filter depot that sold all kinds and sizes I'd be more inclined to use them...


I tweaked my shoulder somehow working out yesterday and today it hurts a little. (I used heat and ibuprofen. It's better than it was but not totally back to normal.)


Last night was also CWF, so after piano I had to quickly eat dinner and then run off there, especially since I was in charge of the lesson.


I need to learn to take things like paper rejections as less a rejection of me and my work and more as something that just happens. My graduate advisor (who is now retired) sent me a manuscript to read. He noted it had been rejected from two big journals and he was now going to try a smaller journal. I hope it gets accepted this time as I am a co-author on it (it's some research I participated in the beginning stages of when I was a grad student).

I have a hard time with that, though. I'm too good at feeling shame about stuff like that*, where "Oh my gosh, I submitted a paper and it got rejected, EVERYONE WILL KNOW" and really, most people in the sciences, they get so many rejections that it's not a big deal. But still - fear of failure is deeply ingrained in me, I think because I felt when I was a kid like my academic successes were the ONLY thing I had (seriously, the few times I failed at something publicly in school, like the time my idiot criminal** 7th grade science teacher had us do these "active learning" things and I misunderstood the instructions on one and did it wrong, and then everyone harassed me and teased me  for weeks because Look, the Egghead failed! and they seemed to take especial glee in the fact that the Smart Kid failed.  And it was pretty unpleasant. (Seventh grade kids are *awful*. I hated seventh grade. It was like everyone was at their most cliquish and they looked for the tiniest weak spot on anyone, and they struck at that weak spot until the person collapsed like a zebra with a broken leg out on the Serengeti)

(*And also other stuff, like federal investigations of people that work at the same place I do even though I had nothing to do with the incident in question)

(**Seriously, he is. "Inappropriate relationship" with a student, some years after I graduated. But I did always get kind of a skeevy vibe off of him, and I made sure I was never alone in a room with him.)

But anyway. I don't know how a person gets to the point of being able to shrug off those kinds of rejections - or maybe some people are good at it and others aren't. I'm not, which is why I have such a hard time submitting anywhere.

Another thought on papers and rejection: I guess I get very much into the idea of "your paper got rejected because it was bad" and that's often not the case. Rejections can happen because "your paper is okay but it doesn't fit with the upcoming issues of the journal" or "it's a bad fit for us" or "it's fine, but there are more pressing papers we need to publish" or "there are lots of papers and yours was good but others were better."

My philosophy is different from many people's: my advisor tends to go for the highest impact journal he thinks he has a shot at, and then goes down from there. I start out with more modest ambitions simply because I'd rather get the paper out but in a smaller journal than go through three to five years of trying and trying again. Maybe that's not a good strategy but meh - with the availability of stuff online any more, it's easy enough for someone to find a solid paper that's in a small journal. I'd rather submit somewhere that has a 50% or better acceptance rate than somewhere that has a 10% acceptance rate. (Well, factoring out Sturgeon's Law and only considering the papers that AREN'T crud). Also, I am at a fairly obscure school, I don't have big funding, don't have big-name co-authors, don't do big expensive science - and yeah, all of that makes a difference, there is a certain glamour you must possess in order to make it into the really big journals, I think.

But anyway: academic publishing is a game, and I'm not to the point yet of not being a sufficiently good loser to be able to shrug off rejections. Someday I'd like to be there. 

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