Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rabbit-Proofing 101

What could be more charming than the sight of contented rabbits engaged in yet another session of adoring grooming (and in my bedroom, no less)?

Of course, rabbits do like to get into any mischief available to them. If an area is to be denied them, it must be denied them on all sides, not just almost everywhere.

For permanent protection of important stuff from characters of a particularly chewy disposition (which is to say Ms. Spots and Orion, as opposed to some lapines I have known), immediate action should be taken. Hardware cloth is a handy item when it comes to protecting low-lying bookshelves, although some means has to be come up with to get at the books.

My parents have their own methods of doing this, which seem to involve blocking off books that aren't used as often, and in one case reaching for the books from the back side of the shelf, which I gather has resulted in some damage to the curtain behind the shelf. They do have, however, some handsome wooden frames for their hardware cloth, which is more than I can say for mine. As hardware cloth comes in rolls, one's first task is to get the stuff to flatten out. Shoving heavy boxes up against it gets the process underway while still allowing some sort of access to the books.

The rabbits in this household evidently feel that it is a waste of my time to go online. I don't think I had the internet functional for more than 48 hours before I came home to discover an expertly dismantled connection. Of course, they did not pile up the cord like this for me to observe; the culprit merely deftly left some pieces of his or her handiwork in an obscure location near the wall where the cord was not taped down.

No wonder both rabbits were settled far under the couch when I discovered this!
Well, the answer to most matters cord-related is... Clear Vinyl Tubing. As the stuff doesn't come pre-split, I tend to put off attaching it to my cords, with distressing results. Still, it is not all that difficult to split with my long-suffering Swiss Army knife. (It has to be split because the plugs on most cords, even phone cords, are much too big to thread through an unsplit tube.)
Travis tells me, however, that he has heard of an alternative product: apparently one can buy pre-split tubing at car-parts stores. This stuff is designed to keep mice from chewing the wiring on the undersides of cars. Regarding this information, I can only observe that you learn something new every day.

I have now got the DSL line pretty well protected, but it looks like I should tackle the phone filter and the exposed part of the phone line as well. After all, rabbits enjoy scuttling under things like this striped laundry bin.

The question now is whether the encased DSL line will become a tripping hazard in the bedroom doorway. Verizon told me very firmly that I must not use a phone cord longer than 14 feet for DSL, so running the cord over the doorframe is not an option. I did try duct-taping the previous line to the carpet, but while that prevented chewing on the taped section, the tape did not really stick to the carpet.
It is my view that I have spent enough of the afternoon rabbit-proofing, as my main project for the weekend is to put together the post-doc proposal that is due in the mail by October 1. I have actually been pretty diligent about that. The "personal statement" and c.v. are pretty much complete, I have picked out and mostly fixed my three writing samples (two are conference papers, so they had to be formatted for other people to read and have footnotes added, and the other is a dissertation chapter which had to have all extraneous matter removed). I have even located four obliging souls to write my letters of recommendation. The actual proposal is not really done, but I did run into a faculty member of my acquaintance at a local cafe this morning and got some useful advice, so I imagine it will all come together shortly.

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