No longer will people slip in and out of my driveway unnoticed as I slave at my computer, far below ground level in my solar radiant-heated cellar/office.

This morning I installed an electric driveway peeper to augment the old gas-station-rubber-hose driveway bell that announced our previous visitors. Some young people, who have never seen a hose-activated bell at a gas station, are afraid to drive over it. They’ll come in and say that they didn’t drive over our hose in the driveway. And because it’s hooked up to be heard in the kitchen, when it does ring I can’t hear it in my cellar/office anyway.

My brother drove in when I asked him to test it. The speaker here on my desk peeped and cheeped its little heart out. Then he walked up and down the driveway – on both sides – and it peeped for that, too.

The directions said to mount the eye part 4 feet off the ground. But the critics-gurus who evaluated the product on another web page said that if I mounted it 1 foot off the ground, it would work better and the company would get five stars in reviews instead of four.

This morning, because it’s a foot off the ground and has four fresh batteries, I’m euphoric. Battery life is determined by the number of raccoons and deer that run through the yard at night, so the jury is still out on that.

If you have been in my office, you know that the first thing I ask you to do is sit in my chair and look at the computer screen. Then I ask you to raise your eyes to the right and look at the mirror suspended from the ceiling. I might tell you I got it down at the St. George dump store. It is angled so that by looking at it, you see another dump mirror mounted on my garage, 150 feet away. And that mirror is angled so that just by sitting at my desk and looking up, you can see anyone standing at my chrome-plated rhubarb stand out by the road.

Although young friends are often impressed by this Rube Goldberg rig, you and I know that there is nothing clever or original about it. Michelson and Morley did something similar over 130 years ago. Hittites might have hung polished brass mirrors at blind corners so chariots wouldn’t collide.

Why do people put solar panels on their homes? Why do people buy a Honda Fit? Why do people cancel 500 expensive channels of nothing and switch to Roku, which is free? They are usually influenced by their neighbors, and I am no different. Years ago I saw one of these electronic peepers on Goosie’s barn, and I’ve been meaning to get one ever since.

What pushed me over the edge?

In 1955, I was a quartermaster on the Coast Guard Cutter Laurel out of Rockland. When in port, we took turns sitting in a white plywood shack by the gangway. When Capt. Haines drove on the dock and was about to come aboard, you’d better not be reading a book. You quickly called the officer on duty, a 24-year-old boy with one gold stripe on his hat; he’d rush up there, and you and he would salute the aged 50-year-old captain when he came aboard.

Over 60 years later, I am faced with a similar situation. My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman who is captain of this craft, drives in the dooryard. She is coming home from work and, to employ the vernacular, is “right wound.” Because she now navigates with two canes, I want to rush up out of my cellar/office and be on deck to carry her gear into the house. The same is true when she trucks stuff home from the grocery store.

By articulating her unspoken command, this tiny electronic device will catapult me out of my chair and validate my worth as a husband.

Do you also depend on electrical or mechanical devices to ensure smooth sailing in your home?

Tell me about your garage door opener. As a newlywed, did you remember the two $2,000 bicycles strapped to the top of your Volvo the first time you proudly pushed the button on your dash and drove in? I say “newlywed” because after 10 years of marriage, cars live outside. Cardboard boxes full of junk quickly fill your basic Maine garage. Later, when the kids leave home – or get divorced – it’s even worse.

Would you be surprised to hear that, because we’ve turned our lives over to technology, a new clicker for our old garage door opener just moved up on the list?

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website: MainePrivateRadio.html

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