I don’t know, man. I mean, I’m all for technology and whatever. Everything we use is technology when you really think about it. Forks, for example. Forks are technology. I’m totally cool with forks. Couldn’t imagine my life without them. But have you seen these new steam whistles? This shit is getting way out of control.

Remember when we were growing up? Back then if you wanted to make a loud, high-pitched squall, by god, you puckered up and blew. No vaporized water necessary. Just a wet set of lips and a good pair of lungs. That’s how we took care of business. Same as our folks and their folks before them, and on and on, back to the most primitive of savages.

Boy, times sure have changed. These kids today can’t be bothered. Ask them to get the attention of their fellow child laborers or call their help in from the field, and the first thing they do is go reaching for a lever. These steam whistles are turning their minds to mush. It’s all lead piping and pressurized gases these days. What’s next? Some sort of metal horse with rubber feet? Give me a break.

And they’re everywhere. I swear, sometimes I’ll hear two steam whistles in the same month. One time I heard three. It’s driving me fucking nuts. I am not a hand-cranked, coil-driven automaton! I am a man!

Seriously, what’s happening to society? My shoe cobbler used to be my shoe cobbler. He knew my name and the names of all my stillborn children. Having a new heel nailed on was a unique experience. It meant something. Now I hear his brother is opening a shop in Oregon Country. Honestly, how many cobblers does one republic need? The monotony is mind-numbing. It wouldn’t surprise me if all 24 states had their own silversmith by the end of the 23rd century. Glad I won’t be around for that.

I really don’t know how much more of these goddamn steam whistles I can take. It’s not necessarily the steam whistles themselves that frighten me; it’s the speed at which these “innovations” are being developed. My own family, for example, are well-known pencil makers. If you had told my father that a mere 20 years after his death from cholera that we’d be using clay to enhance the quality of inferior graphite he would have called you crazy. Yet here I am, in the bright light of no less than seven beeswax candles, writing this somewhat legible essay with a freshly whittled pencil made from graphite that just a half century ago would have been hauled to the crucible for cannonball making.

And don’t even get me started on cannons. Just knowing that there’s royalty out there with their flints to the fuse on these things is enough to keep me up at night. I mean, one good shot is all it would take to ruin an entire wagon. Two if they’re small and right next to each other. Can you imagine what would happen if everybody shot their cannons off at the same time?

Christ.

Have I told you about the cabin I’m building?