This morning, I woke at about 11AM, paying back some of the sleep debt from the trip. I ate breakfast, read some webcomics, arbitraged a bit in CoX, then decided I didn't feel like writing so I'd go clean. Since a bunch of people were nudging me to deal with the moldy basement, I opted to tackle the mold. This was a mistake.
A little scrubbing at the walls revealed that what looked like an infectious disease growing on them was, in fact, one part mold, two parts dirt, and ten parts bubbling paint, all of which was caused by the unstoppable water seepage. The thick layers of bubbling paint started flaking away as soon as I tried cleaning it.
I was somewhat prepared for this, as I'd noticed this the last time I tried to clean the mold off the walls, too. At that time, I'd bought paint stripper. So I dug out the stripper, scraper, washed off a paintbrush and rubber gloves, and unearthed an old and slightly rusty metal baking pan to pour stripper into. I read all the directions and warnings on the can, and fetched a fan from upstairs, then tried to open basement windows without success. Eventually I opened the basement door as the one thing that worked. I applied stripper to a test spot on the wall per directions, and discovered that I didn't really need it to remove the top layer of paint, which had been applied so thickly and was so damaged by water that the scraper alone could peel it back. So I peeled off what came up fairly easily, then applied stripper to the undercoat. By this time my legs and arms ached from all the work done low to the ground, so I took a break for half an hour and gave the stripper time to soak in. Then I went back at it.
By the time I'd spent two hours on it, I realized that (a) this is going to take a really long time and (b) I do not want to do it and (c) I am going to do at best a quarter-assed job of it.
There's a lot of cleaning-type chores that I can't outsource, or that aren't worth outsourcing because I'd spend almost as much time finding someone else to do it and supervising them as it'd take to do the job myself. Stripping off moldy paint and repainting the walls with mold- and water-resistant paint is probably not one of these chores. I decided this is a task I should resolve with sufficient application of money instead.
So I spent another hour scraping off the rest of the paint stripper and the paint it coated and called it quits. I will tackle the more mundane aspects of basement cleaning later (ie, picking up the junk littering it and trying to compact some of the stuff being stored there) and call painters about the wall issue. Hopefully it won't be more expensive than my vacation was.