“Don’t draw my wrinkles!”

I’ll be sketching a long line of people at a church dinner or community party, and in the course of an hour or two will hear it a dozen times.

“Don’t draw my wrinkles.”

Usually I laugh it off.  “You don’t have any wrinkles.”  Or I tease that “I take the wrinkles from the women and give them to the men.”

Sometimes I say, “Hey, they don’t call me ‘Botox Joe’ for nothing!”

Why do people hate facial wrinkles so much?

Some child called them “crinkles.”

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What my 90-year-old father taught me about life

“Never unprepared.”

The McKeever crest actually claims that as our family motto, going back to somewhere, Ireland or Scotland or both.

I used to laugh at the irony of that.  I mean, what were our people, a bunch of boy scouts?

I’m not laughing any more. My dad taught me how it works.

Carl J. McKeever, the 6th generation descendant of Cornelius “Neil” McKeever who arrived from the old country on the east coast around 1803, was definitely an original. The first-born of an even dozen children, Dad started working inside the coal mines in 1926 when he was 14.  His formal education ended with the seventh grade, but he never stopped growing and learning and being curious.

At the time this happened, I thought this was hilarious.

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Hoisted on one’s own petard. Whatever that means.

I bought three cheap little rubber snakes at Walmart to drop into the tall grass in my front yard to give my grandson a start as he goes by with the mower.

The only one they scared was me.

Son Neil was videoing it as Grant pushed the mower ever closer to the serpents.  Then, at the magic moment, when he saw the snakes, he never batted an eye—but started to push the mower over them, until Neil stopped him.

Later, after I’d taken the snakes into the house, Neil returned them to the front yard and laid them in the flower garden as decorations.  So, next morning when I went to bring in the newspaper, my eye spots the snakes and my nerves jerk before my mind has time to signal that “it’s okay; they’re just rubber.”

I bought them to scare Grant, but the only person they startle is me.

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Pluto, Hubble, and why I believe in Heaven

“You have covered the heavens with your majesty…. When I observe the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You set in place, what is man that You remember him…? Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8)

This has been quite a week for science lovers and everyone else.

The New Horizons spacecraft did a fly-by in the area of Pluto traveling at a comfortable 30,800 mph.

And sent back snapshots for our enjoyment.

Pluto is handsome and a little small for his age, but still quite the character.  He’s definitely someone we wanted to know.

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Take my colonoscopy for me. Please!

“No one can believe for you any more than they can eat your food and make your love.” — Anonymous

As I type this, I’m getting ready for a day and then a full night of prep for my colonoscopy.  I’ve laid in a supply of apple sauce and chicken broth and Sprite, the kind of non-threatening foods the gastro doctor says one can have the day before going through this gut check. (heh heh)

I’ve done this before. Twice, as a matter of fact.  And it’s no fun. So…

I was wondering if any of my friends would like to volunteer to take this test for me.  It wouldn’t be exactly cheating, like taking the SAT in someone else’s name.

Any takers?  Any at all?


I didn’t think so.

Several friends messaged that they’d love to take my place. But Charles has promised his wife he’d take out the trash tomorrow morning. And Elsie has an appointment for a pedicure. And Mike says he will fast and pray about it. The problem is Mike’s fasts are always two-day affairs and the colonoscopy will be over by the time he gets divine guidance.

Fact is, having someone fill in for me wouldn’t work, would it?  Some things you have to do for yourself.

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A fool-proof plan for those needing more frustration in their lives

You poor thing.  Life has been boring for you lately, and you have been searching for a way to perk it up, to insert a little anxiety into your days and wakefulness into your nights. We have the answer for you.  Eleven answers, in fact.

Here are Joe’s tried-and-proven techniques, all guaranteed to add frustration to your existence….

!. Buy a computer.

That’s all.  Just get a computer. From the first, you will be frustrated just looking for the “start” or “on/off” switch. You will gnash your teeth trying to figure out how to get everything out of the box and set it up. You will learn the definition of words someone made up, like “modem” and “yahoo” and “google.” Then, after your 10-year-old puts it all together and makes everything work, you will tear your hair out on an average of at least once a week.

This is not an exaggeration.  It’s why a large percentage of computer-users are bald. It’s why almost no old people are on the computer. They would have been, but the stress killed them before they got out of middle age.

The computer is perfect for people with insufficient frustration in their lives.

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What I have learned about the creative process

“In the beginning, God created….” (Genesis 1:1)

Real creativity is a God thing.

When you sit down to write or draw or whatever, remember that your Muse (the Original Muse!) has read it all and seen it all and inspired much of it, so He is your greatest Resource.

Those who want to learn to write should surround themselves with good writing (i.e., excellent reading material) and inspired writers.

Those who want to think creatively should regularly plant themselves among off-the-wall thinkers, people whose minds push the boundaries in every direction. They will loosen you up.

And then, pull back and spend a lot of time alone, thinking.

Go to bed thinking about whatever is bugging you, inspiring you, burdening you, pestering you, charming you, or puzzling you.  Your subconscious will keep at it while you recuperate.

If something occurs to you in the middle of the night, you absolutely must get up then and write it down.  If you plead that you are sleep deprived and insist that “this is such a great insight, I’ll surely remember it in the morning,” the single thing I can guarantee is that you will not remember it when the night is over.  Iron-clad promise.

You must get up when the idea occurs.  Write it down.

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Things that do not stick with me

When my friend Freddie Arnold told me that a certain solution was exactly what I needed to take care of the mildew in my concrete, I wrote it down.

And promptly forgot what I had written.

Over the next several weeks, when I would be out and about and could have run by Home Depot or Lowe’s and picked up that item, my mind would not recall it, try as I might.  So, eventually, I dug out my note and determined I would remember it the next time.  And forgot it again.

It would not stay in my mind.

Shock Wave, it’s called.

And even now, I had to work at finding those two words in the cluttered file system of my mind.

Some things just will not stick with me.  You can tell me and I walk away without remembering one word of it.  It’s like the brain has no cells in that tiny portion of gray matter and we have to find another mental refrigerator on which to apply the magnet containing that piece of information.

Medicines are like that.

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The need for a traffic cop

Someone has to be in charge.  Don’t they?

On the highway, in the classroom, at the factory, during the ball game, and in the Christian life, nothing works without someone present being empowered to say, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).  Right?  Or not?

Here are a few thoughts to begin a conversation around your dinner table on the subject of authority….

In “The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published,” David Skinner describes the hostile reaction that greeted the release of “Webster’s Third Edition” in 1961.  The incident makes a great point for all of us, particularly church folk.

But first, the context.

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The kind of bridge I want

The Huey P. Long Bridge crosses the Mississippi River a few miles downriver from here.  It was dedicated in 1935, a time when cars were small and narrow and governments needed to put men to work.  That’s why they gave New Orleans its first bridge across the river and named it after this politician of dubious merit.  (That’s a pet peeve of mine, but I’ll move right along.)

The problem with that bridge for all the decades since is that its two lanes were too narrow and curving for modern cars and trucks. Each lane was 9 feet wide, with no shoulders alongside. Signs forbade trucks from passing anyone, and motorists caught up on their prayers driving across it.  It really could be frightening.

Then, in recent years, the government finally decided it was high time to upgrade that bridge, and shelled out something like a billion dollars to widen it and correct some of its flaws.  These days, driving across that huge wide expanse is a pure joy. (The lanes are 11 feet wide, bordered by a 2 feet-wide shoulder to the inside and an 8-foot shoulder to the outside.)

What I wanted to tell you, though, was something an engineer said about the original bridge, something I find fascinating.

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