Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You never know what you’re going to find on this page. . . .

A typical summer day in Phoenix, it’s 110-plus degrees this afternoon, and I’m sweeping leaves from the patio in the backyard. The broom I’ve got is pretty old . . . all the bristles slant heavily to one side, which means that it works pretty well in one direction but is fairly useless in the other. Honestly, it’s a piece of junk, but I’m too lazy to venture out and buy a new one.  So I toil away, being sure to turn my body rather than “backhanding” with the broom.  The sun is beating down on me, and I start to get a little dizzy from sweeping in circles. I figure heat stroke must be imminent, because my mind starts to wander in strange directions.

It occurs to me that the broom could possibly be the most primitive tool that modern man still uses on a regular basis. Think about it – it’s a bunch of straw tied to the end of a stick, essentially unchanged from the ones used by stone-age patio sweepers hundreds of thousands of years ago. I may as well be Neanderthal Man cleaning out the cave. Yeah, yeah . . . I know, the man would not be doing the sweeping in those days. . . which either makes me extremely liberated for the time, or perhaps, gay. Whatever.

But seriously, is any tool commonly used today less evolved than the lowly broom? I can’t think of one. The hammer? It’s been refined over time with advances in metallurgy and ergonomics. Ditto the ax. But the broom remains nothing more than a wad of grass on the end of a stick. It’s kind of surreal. Or maybe I just need to get out of the heat.

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