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Started: 2009-11-29 08:55:45

Submitted: 2009-11-29 09:33:33

Visibility: World-readable

Calvin started crawling last weekend, while on a video conference with Kiesa's mother. His first target was our shoes, sitting carelessly near the front door. These seemed to fascinate him, though we were a little worried about his chewing on the laces and eating the dirt on the sole. (I have no interest in wrapping either Calvin or the house in bubble-wrap to protect them from each other, but I do intend to pick up at least the low-hanging fruit.) By mid-week, Calvin was able to spot our shoes from across the living room and crawl straight to them. This triggered a week of reactionary child-proofing, in which we observed what Calvin was getting himself into and tried to figure out how to keep him from getting into too much trouble.

The first obvious problem was the stairs. By Thursday, Calvin was pulling himself up on the first stair and grabbing things from the second stair. I installed a pair of child gates across the stairs going up and across the passage from the dining room to the kitchen, keeping Calvin from accessing the basement stairs and the main-floor bathroom. Our cats don't seem to be able to get around the gates while closed, which may come in handy upstairs but is a bit inconvenient in the kitchen, since our cats generally have free run around the living room but have their food in the bathroom and litter box downstairs.

(One thing I don't fully understand is how narrow the gate is. If I walk straight through, I have about a centimeter of clearance on each side. I may be an inch taller than the median American male but I'm not particularly wide. When picking gates, I didn't think to consider how wide the gate itself was.)

Our computers posed another threat via their power cables. Calvin is fascinated by all things cable and tends to go straight for the power cables and AC adaptors. Our main level consists of an open living room, dining room, and kitchen, without any obvious place to hide computers and cables. For years, our notebook computers have frolicked on the dining room table, occasionally pushed aside to meet mealtime requirements. We lacked an obvious way to keep the power cables out of the way. I visualized acquiring extended batteries and allocating some sort of charging cabinet, which would feature drawers in which we could put our computers to charge while they weren't in use. This would require additional furniture, which seemed less than optimal given our recent furniture-acquisition adventures. I asked on Kiesa's favorite parenting question-and-answer site but didn't get much.

Inspiration struck yesterday when I realized I could hang a power strip above the dining room table from the ceiling and power it from the already-protected power strip behind the entertainment center, a few meters away from the table. It wouldn't be pretty, but it would keep the cables out of Calvin's reach for the immediate future. I acquired a pair of ceiling hooks, installed them in the dining room, hung a power strip, and moved the power assemblies onto the table.

Adara and Portico with hanging power strip
Adara and Portico with hanging power strip

My solution clearly won't win any awards for its aesthetics, but I can claim it's inexpensive and effective.

Adara and Portico powered by hanging power strip
Adara and Portico powered by hanging power strip

(This reminds me of a magazine ad I saw, circa 2000, showing a guy sitting on a concrete floor with a notebook powered by a power cable hanging from the ceiling.)