The Epitome of Power and Passion

Happy Friday, All!  How are we holding up??  The “leaders” are still playing with each other in the States … and the world!  How exciting to watch!!  We’ve got to save ourselves.  TGIF, then!!  Thanks for your positivity!  This world today can use all that it can get!!

I could say this entire piece with two words – Tina Turner!!  But that wouldn’t challenge my attempt to say something ELSE about “Tina” born Ana Mae Bullock in Brownsville, TN …  I mean, this person was truly a “self-made woman”!  Born in 1939 when music was one of the few ways for African Americans to “get ahead” in life since there was no way to have “an equal life” with our “white” counterparts, she hit corners, took turns, stumbled and fell, used food stamps to get back on her feet and the rest is a power-filled history.  The thing that amazes me the most is how she started out as an R & B singer with and when she met “Ike” is that she somehow blossomed into “The Queen of Rock”.  So, she not only survived a relationship with an abusive out of control junkie who fell from grace, she transformed herself into “The Epitome of Power and Passion”, to use Beyonce’s words.  How does “one” do that?!?  You know, when I look at her life there are no words to appropriately describe what she did, who she was, not to mention how many different kinds of people on the Planet whose lives she touched and impacted.

For me, I am amazed at how she came through the part of her life when she lovingly partnered with the already though only locally known talent of Ike Turner.  For African American men, music was a way to “get ahead”, too.  Yet, she and Ike met up at a time when heroin was literally destroying “the black community”!  As she mentioned in one of her many many televised interviews, she had experienced having houses burned, cars shot into, and multiple recoveries from drug-fueled fights and abuse from Ike!!  How do you do that?!?  Her life is a testament to how one conjures up the inner strength of an average African American woman who powerfully overcame what was a death trap for many African American lives to become “The Queen of Rock”!  As I scurried through pages of her story after her passing, I realized how much I had missed about her life and was even more compelled to be drawn closer to understanding this woman’s life.  I was born at the tail end of the heroin crisis in America’s many cities though I was raised close to New York City in the suburbs of Westchester County … New York, that is.  I witnessed people trying to make it by selling heroin in an attempt to become the next “Frank Lucas”.  It was not an easy task as the high-grade heroin that hit the streets in the “Big Cities” often ended up in the arms and veins of family members … fathers and brothers and occasionally a few females in the music industry!  That lifestyle of driving and pushing and singing and dancing not to mention preparing for her spectacular concerts … and believing in herself and her mission made other people call her “The Queen of Rock”!  What a gift to humanity, she is.

In closing, I wanted to simply state as I did on a good friend’s post of a few songs by Tina that “There’s Only ONE!”  Wow …  May you never be forgotten “Tina Turner” aka “The Queen of Rock”!!


John I. Cook, Director

“Be Yourself … Because You Are YOU!”

It’s Friday, All!  Another fine opportunity to enjoy life and be the best that YOU can be.  It might take a bit o’ work sometimes but … TGIF!  Thanks again for your positivity.  Tomorrow, Saturday May 20, 1917, will be my Mother’s Birthday – Marietta Dolores!  Continue to rest in heavenly peace, Mom …

Have you ever heard people – church or non-church goers – speak of spiritual warfare?  It’s an interesting concept to wrap your head around but I’ve witnessed it in my life.  When things are going well for you … and you dare to say it (testify, they call it in church), more hostility, jealousy, envy and down right evilness will present itself to you over and over.  It’s a test!  In other words, I would ask myself, “How peaceful am I?”  “What will I do to protect my peace?”  You have to remain what you profess to be in light of omnipresent challenges.  Not a small order for anyone, especially someone whose life is and has been an example of “how to do …” things.  Humans never cease to amaze me during such moments and times.  I usually find my “peace” briefly interrupted and I must use some ingenuity to get it back … peacefully!

There are some people who DO NOT want to see others succeed or improve their lives.  These same people have “come up” with different reasons to excuse their wretched behavior in trying to sabotage, discourage, and if possible, curtail your progress as a “foe”.  They can be in your family.  At least, perhaps due to their low self-esteem and inability to find some “worth” in their own lives, such people cannot bear to see “one” be successful, at peace, happy, healthy or content even.  Why is that?!?  In my sociological studies in undergraduate school, I came across a concept of “the protean man”.  Such a person does not have to be a man yet must be able to adjust and adapt quickly to constantly changing and volatile circumstances or situations that she(he) may find themself.  This particular term stood out for me as I tried to handle everything I could successfully while keeping my academic/work-study scholarship at Princeton intact.  Neither of my parents had attended college/university but they had my back, so to speak.  There was a lot of pressure.  My grade point average HAD to remain at 3.5 in order for me to continue to receive my work/study package, which included a handsome scholarship and a job.  I was kind of poor; I went through the freshman year blues and even had a roommate who had decided that Princeton wasn’t for him and transferred. I even had an older girlfriend with a young son that I had acquired during my last year at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire.  We eventually broke up because she wanted me to drop out of Princeton and … no, I had had enough!  Hasta la vista, Baby!!  And, no, it wasn’t easy.  Protean Man time!!  And to think that after so much was put into my life so I could succeed that I will let ANYONE change my lane is simply ludicrous.  Both parents tirelessly participated in their youngest offspring’s life as I went from boarding school to an Ivy League university on “academic scholarship” to a full-time teaching job in White Plains, NY.  If “you” want to stop my progress now, “forget about it”!!

What kind of person would NOT like you … or it … if you performed well or drastically improved something in your life?  Is that properly called a jealous, low self-esteemed hater?  It’s funny sometimes, I’m being sarcastic, when the “hater” complains about your response to their often-repeated abuse, hate and disrespect towards YOU!!  You may remember one of my survival skills that I shared with readers about “not stuffing my feelings” and standing up for myself and who I REALLY am!  There have been some longitudinal studies connecting verbal abuse and forcing someone NOT to state their feelings or views (stuffing) but be abused over and over to cases of various forms of cancer (throat, mouth, lung, and bone).  My Dad died of bone marrow cancer, and I know he HAD to keep his thoughts to himself many many times so that he could live and successfully raise his family alongside my Mom.  I’m his son and we both are no nonsense type of men (not boys).  This is why I am so intent on not only knowing myself, but also BEING myself … because I am me!  Those two people were (still are!) my celestial guard rails who were full of love and discipline to keep me on MY road. I do keep in mind that I am a work in progress but I’m not going backwards in my life’s direction nor make a complete imbecile change in my life to please ANY haters disguised as bullies and naysayers.  I’m good where I am, and progress is my only option right now.

Some of you readers may remember that I mentioned that I am NOT for everyone.  You might be looking for some conspiracy theories or someplace where one can vent their hostile feelings, know that here at Educational Excellence there is a professional platform which I use to express views contingent with my “not for profit business” values.  And, no I don’t do haters and naysayers!  Excellence and being the “best that you can be” are my goals and vision.  It’s not a place to look for “friendship” or “not feel uncomfortable” as I seek to expose various social ills that are destroying OUR civilization.  Is it time for a change?  Can we do it peacefully?  Or are we just going to throw our hands up … and go to “a party”?  Why not BOTH!!  Let’s get started!

As I mystically contemplate my Mother’s birthday tomorrow, I continue to give thanks to both her and my Dad … and Creation for keeping me “in my lane”.  If you “know thyself”, you’ll never be lonely.  “Be yourself, because you are YOU!”


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

The Girl With No Face . . .

Welp, it’s Friday again!  Have you hugged your kids today?  Your partners?  How about your parents or grandparents?  If so, join me in a moment of gratitude … even … TGIF!  Thank you ALL very kindly!

Some things about human behavior never cease to amaze me!  Selfishness, greed, cowardice … dishonesty …  It hit me hard AGAIN after hearing and seeing accounts of yet another mass shooting in Allen, TX … at a mall!  It seems that the “corrupted politicians” (republicans who cling to their second amendment right as if it is a baby’s pacifier while we allow ourselves to kill each other … and NRA capitalists stand by and watch us kill each other as they go all the way to the banks …) have convinced us “this will never happen again” ….  Don’t we get it yet?!?  They are playing games with our lives … our children’s lives … like Russian roulette.  While I need to travel stateside in July to update some documents, I’m leaning towards just an “in and out” trip in an effort to come out alive!!

It almost seems like we’re (y’all are) being taken hostage in “our” own country by components of “our” own government and their financial backers!!  When I look at it from where I am fortunate enough to sit today, it looks pretty ominous.  The most recent mass shooting (unless one is happening right now as I pen this piece!) in Allen, TX really broke my heart … over and over again!  I wonder sometimes … Do many Americans have a heart?!?  Why do we allow these two “care less” groups (NRA & supporters plus avaricious and greedy politicians) to control our lives?!?  Can’t we see that it is only a matter of time before some girl in our family is found with NO FACE?!?  Don’t make me say it … the hell with it … Are you shittin’ me?!?  You mean, “you” would rather support the second amendment and jeopardize my grandson’s opportunity at LIFE?!?  You’ve been bamboozled if so!

In thinking about possible solutions, it comes to mind that we should require a “special committee” of NRA execs and 2nd amendment advocates to come to the aftermath of one of these mass shootings and be required to take photographs of and write vivid descriptions of what they see.  The downside for this “special committee” members would no longer receive their salaries (taxpayers money) unless they completed their “homework” successfully.  There should be a special group consisting of victims and family members of victims of these mass shootings to correct that first group’s “homework”!  We need to put THEIR faces in the same crap that they are forcing American citizens to face EVERY freakin’ day!!!  I mean DAMN … is the greed element so decadently powerful that these “educated” and “smart” leaders can’t even see the consequences of such foolhardy policies?!?

Well, I’m done here and I’m going to climb down from my soapbox and ask you readers to spread these words (if you believe in them) and make them a part of your own “kitchen table” issues!  I can’t believe that I actually don’t want to travel stateside with all of the drama that is constantly brewing in the heads of these so-called “supremacists” and “right-wingers” who act more like supreme idiots than anything else!  Decisions … decisions …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

Embracing Diversity – Part II

What are we going to do with this Friday?!?  Not only enjoy it but appreciate it … and every day!  TGIF!  ¡¡Feliz “Cinco de Mayo”!!

Over the years of my professional life, I’ve experienced some incredible “learning techniques”.  One of those techniques is “acceptance”.  Now, no … I’m not going to sit there while an insane shooter is about to murder me and the students in my class (merely hypothetical), but I try not to be too judgemental when I hear a “story” different from the usual one or mine.  I look at the person and use my people skills that I’ve developed in classrooms from White Plains, NY to Cali, Colombia, South America and Sunrise, FL at AMEX and City College in Ft. Lauderdale!  I’ve had my opportunities to learn about differences which I still employ today.  It’s worth learning that all people are somewhat different …. and yet similar.  Embrace diversity!

One of my toughest “jobs” with the best working environment was at an international call center for American Express!  (And yes, I’m a product of my times and  my Dad and I didn’t want me to steal or sell drugs … so … I went to work!)  I got hired there as a “telephone service center” (TSC) representative for English speaking clients.  When the human resources department inquired about who in our group of new hires spoke Spanish, I raised my hand.  Shortly after, a small group of the “new class” was transferred to “the Spanish gate” where all calls that came in were in Spanish!  I did well … I worked hard!  I even got a few “complimentary calls” when Spanish speaking clients told management that they were very happy with my customer service … in Spanish! They had the best cafeteria at AMEX that I had ever seen with gourmet foods, vegetarian plates, outstanding beverages, and a gorgeous environment.  Ken Chenault was the CEO of American Express at that time!  They also had these teams and committees for employees to join to enhance the ambiance of the facility in Sunrise, FL.  It was like a city in and of itself.  I found my way to the “Diversity Team” and we got time off of the phones to plan events at the facility to educate our co-workers on the diverse elements in our society and our work place in particular.  I had met a Cuban saxophone player – Ed Calle – and we became friends on the jazz scene in Ft. Lauderdale and Las Olas Boulevard.  We (The Diversity Team at AMEX) hired Ed and his incredible Latin band to enhance our environment during an event for “Cinco de Mayo”.  It was great to see people “mixing and learning” about each other, our differences and similarities.  I took notes that I carry in my head to this very day!

Accepting others who are actually doing their best is important for all parties involved.  One may have an opportunity to learn about the challenges we face and share methods and techniques of overcoming such challenges.  My Dad – Big Ike – who had NO formal education and taught me how to read my first newspaper while sitting with him in his easy chair informed me of the importance of “learning about others”.  Every time I think of how he had “scooped up” my Mom, got on an Amtrak train to New York and never looked back except when he moved his mother from Florida to a room across the street from our building in “The Projects”, I am amazed at his abilities and interpersonal skills!!

When I meet people for the first time, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt FIRST!  Of course, if they burn through about three “doubts”, I move on.  I have learned that some people will lie in your face to appear larger than life.  I’ve learned to find my way through those charades most of the time.  I occasionally get “snagged” by a liar or bully until I find my way out of their web!!  Then, I never look back!

As I thumb through the pages of daily modern history, it saddens me that “the masses” are often turning on each other instead of on the “lying leaders” who steal from us right in front of our faces!  Can’t you see the enemy?!?  It ain’t us …  Ask Clarence Thomas and his corrupt “Mrs.” if they are feeling “fat and protected” by the billionaire that they have cozied up to over the past 20 years!!  Can you say, “Get out, Clarence … and take your wife with you!!”

In my pieces, I try to emphasize the importance of coming together to “save ourselves” and OUR home, Planet Earth!!  We won’t be able to blame anyone except OURSELVES for not coming together!  I still have hopes that this newer generation of leaders (vote wisely!) may be able to correct the quandary that these selfish previous and current leaders have us in!!  I’m just sayin’ …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!! I love humanity!!

Listening to the Universe

Well, well, well … it ain’t hard to tell!  Who ever heard of listening to something other than “human noise”?!?  Or, listening to something that you can’t see?  You’ve got to be in tune with it for sure.  It’s about time for me to do my TGIF acknowledgement!  Done!

Over each human’s lifetime, we have been exposed to some form of religion, as it has come to be called.  Others may call themselves atheist. I remember taking a course in boarding school called “The Rise of World Religions”.  (I graduated from St. Paul’s with honors in English, Spanish, and religion) Today, there would be a heated debate on which those would be.  For me, it doesn’t matter much.  If it’s not part of a solution for me and humanity TODAY, I won’t waste my time debating or contemplating it!  If I were so daring as to try to create a “new” religion, it would be based on “mutual respect” (love) for ALL, including and especially Nature!  I want to mention how I witness the universe operating in my life, without my consent!  Yet, I have learned to just listen sometimes and not act so fast on human impulse.  Those impulses have in the past been generated by stress, “flight or fight” type situations.  Out here where I am at, the peace and tranquility exceed my expectations sometimes. I actually look forward to though quietly and not anxiously for the “universe” to direct many of my activities.

Last weekend, I was planning to drop by a location where there has been an organization called “El Puente” that services the local indigenous Bri Bri population.  It was started by two Americans who ran it for many years.  When I first arrived, I had volunteered as a tutor for English class …  And then “covid” hit and the Ministerio de Salud shut such entities down.  I had met many of the participants at the Saturday lunch or “soup kitchen” where I used to set up shop to help with any English assignments or interests.  Many of us became friends.  So, just by chance of “universal intervention”, I had planned to stop by and say hello to Derek and his wife Maria and their daughter whom I often see in my travels here in Puerto.  I have an “El Puente” cap that I bought from them last year along with an indigenous handmade bead necklace for protection. I put them both on and decided to just stop by to say hi …  When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people there including the new director of “El Puente” Kent and his daughters!  His wife, Melissa, needed some “her” time since the family had just arrived from the States.  They were celebrating “Dia de Los Indígenas” at their location – El Puente – which is just around the bend from the rental house!  The festivities were over the top including typical group dancing in a circle which was happening when I arrived, a typical lunch served with rice, ham and boiled banana (platano) eaten without ANY utensils and served on a leaf!!  Of course, I purchased a few empanadas and a local ice cream/refresco which they were also selling to tie me over until I got home.  I videotaped and saw many of my Bri Bri friends who also fondly remember my almost 2 years volunteering as an English tutor!  No one had told me anything about the event, I wasn’t sent an e-mail by anyone …  It was straight up messaging from “the universe”!  I spent over two hours there!

Part of the credit for being accessible to universal direction is that I have learned and come to value the concept of “not messing with anyone/anything” and instead being very benevolent with the few material things that I possess as well as any of the spiritual things that I may offer.  Living with this as my philosophy not only brings me peace, but it also often provides inexplicable guidance and gifts that I could NOT have planned or acquired with my greatest efforts and intelligence.  So, I often find myself raising my eyes to the sky and whispering “Thank you” out loud.  We MUST learn to listen to the divinity of the universe and NOT the drama of our colleagues.  It takes patience, time alone, and skill.  It’s not something that you can suddenly do.  When I observe my health and sense of well-being, I see leaps of progress and improvements.  It seems that once I was able to disconnect from a lifestyle driven by fear, full of so much work that I could barely take care of myself, I feel like myself again!!  THAT was a big challenge, especially once the arthritis in my hips had set in.  Finding a place where people don’t normally rush around so much, and with birds chirping incessantly, dogs barking periodically, and even a rooster or two crowing out here has been invaluable.  I’m able to get in tune with the universe on a very uplifting and positive frequency or level.  When any stressful thoughts come, I simply am able to let them melt away.  If any stressful situations arise, I can simply walk away.  Coupled with my one hour per day, three days a week workout routine, I’m feeling groovy again!  I remember back in the day when I was trying to find myself, as we used to say!  Come to discover, I was here all the time!  It’s about tuning in to positivity with genuine respect and love.  People are still people out here, but I can find my frequency easier with less societal distractions, if you know what I mean.

The journey is a bit different for each of us as we come from a set of different experiences.  So, we have to learn to “vibe” with each other, you dig?!!  This again is what Educational Excellence seeks to advocate, Y’all!  Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

“Ain’t Nothin’ but the Money!”

Okay, it’s another Friday under Creation … I’m thankful just to be here and aware!  While I don’t advocate any particular religious or social “doctrine”, I’ve always liked the axiom “TGIF!”.  It’s cool to be happy and thankful!  So, TGIF!!

Whether we want to accept it “they” have us fighting each other for it, destroying the Planet for it … as if we were “gods” when money was created to make trading easier during the Middle Ages.  Now, we (us humans) have gotten so carried away with it – money, the concept of intangible “wealth”, that our civilization has normalized the acquisition of “wealth” by any means necessary.  Humans are addicted to it.  Personally, I still use it to exchange for “goods and services”.  It’s NOT a mark of excellence nor a position of power … for me.  Most people have it twisted to the point where we “sell” our values of dignity and self worth – some of us – to “appear” ahead or better than someone with less than you … and so the vicious “game of human dominoes” begins!  Speculate … when and how will it end!  Paul McCartney said it a while back: “Come Together!”  Frankie Beverly and Maze said it over and over in “We Are One!”

The US Supreme Court “jester” Thomas and his wife “Bonnie” Thomas have proven how low one can go, ignoring the “rules” in their personal lives while advocating the importance of “law and order” on the professional “stage”.  And yes, it all seems to be “political theatre” with everyone wanting to be “the star of their OWN story”!  I mean. It’s gotten so bad that these characters are doing it in “plain sight”!  So, y’all can tell them when I’m gone that I tried to “say something” along with the rest of the “social activists” and social scientists and people who genuinely care!  But we had a great time trying to save “humanity” with a priceless basic ingredient called “love”!  Accept no substitutes that end up with “one” being manipulated to do “dirty stuff” in the name of love!

Between the “money” and “weapons” in places like the USA, it seems that nothing else matters.  Now, it’s the same everywhere just in lesser (or greater) degrees – once a person gets their hands on a gun, their “self-concept” changes … for worse quite often.  It seems that everyone is “afraid” of something that determines how they view their own life.  Shouldn’t “life” be lived with lots of “love”, peace, and happiness maybe?!?  Yet, we see so-called “leaders” motivating people with “fear” of each other!  Keep in mind, these are not real “leaders”.  They may have convinced you that they are a “leader” while simultaneously doing what “they” tell you NOT to do!  Sounds like anyone that you know?!?  There are a lot of “fake” leaders like that!  I’m not sure how this “divide and conquer” strategy will work but I’m placing my bet on “the power of love”!  You might say that it’s cliche, but … do you have something BETTER to believe in that might unite us humans?!?

Every generation seems to be plagued with the same problem(s) of getting our human “ills” right and legislated!  You know, some things can’t be legislated …  Some things must come from the “heart of humanity”!  Don’t let yours die.  When “trapped” in a situation where you must demonstrate either the evils caused by greed … OR … you may demonstrate “the power of love”, choose wisely!  The fabric of human values must be restored … no matter who you think you are or where you’re from!!  There are many things other than money.  “Choose wisely”!


John I. Cook, Director

Stand Up! For Yourself … At Least!

It’s Friday!!  How are y’all holding up?  Sometimes, I’m just glad to be “above ground” … and out here, too … in the Caribbean, that is!  So, I really do have a lot to be grateful for … TGIF!!  And you?

Nowadays, for me … life looks challenging!  Now, I am not “a fighter” but I can be when necessary!  And NO … I’m not talking about fisticuffs!  I’m the type of person who fights intellectually for what I believe in!  When I lay down at night, I want to be at peace with myself because … today I can!!  So, I take advantage of the fact that I have time … imagine that … to get involved in my physical and mental health (education, too) and make them my priorities!  I’m sure that by now, readers can tell that “I am NOT for everybody!”  If you want to know lies and deceit, gossip and garbage … PLEASE … keep it moving!  I try to make it clear that I take a stand for what I am.  If you challenge “who” or “what” I am, a person should be ready for an intellectual battle at least …  I don’t play “stupid” for nobody.  Please, don’t mistake my humility for stupidity!  As I told one ex-friend, “I will smoke you … keep messing with me and I will show you!”

Amongst the many banners that I hold high in my life is the “anti-racist” one.  I mean, I was born into the skin I’m in and I am quite proud of how I handle myself as I am constantly challenged to defend myself or at least “stand up” for myself! It’s not becoming to allow someone to “define” me!!  Most people have the wrong idea anyway as “they” focus on my skin color for jokes and basic disrespectful behavior.  I was reading up on some information yesterday about the “Colfax Massacre” on Easter Sunday in Colfax, Louisiana in 1873.  After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, it wasn’t actually enforced in places where “whites had become accustomed to black slaves”.  Often, there were no federal troops to enforce the document.  Even those whites who KNEW that slavery and racial discrimination were wrong tried to stand up for their “fellow human beings”.  This “massacre” was one such event as the former slaves sought to “stand up” for their freedom and rights to the “white supremacists” of which there were many.  There were areas where there was no “law enforcement” and the racist “white” Americans did EXACTLY as they wanted!  You can imagine that it must NOT have been pretty as an estimated 62 – 153 black militiamen were murdered as they surrendered to the “former Confederate soldier” counterparts!!  There are accounts that say the estimate of murdered “blacks” was way more!  As well, there are accounts of the Colfax Massacre that describe how the “blacks” who sought to protect their newly established “freedmen” rights were GUNNED down by these ex-confederates AFTER they had surrendered!  Can you say “barbaric cowards”?!?  You see, it’s a MUST for any respectable African American to be an anti-racist, especially amongst the men!  “Stand Up!”

As the fires burn in the streets of Paris, the drama continues to unfold as Netanyahu postures himself to be the next dictator, the USA has its hands full with multiple legal cases as well as factions defending a twice impeached, racist, sexist and incompetent ex-president!  Enter “Li’l Jerk” Jimmy Jordan to defend this sack of crap!  And of course, #45 uses his racist attacks (calling Mr. Bragg an animal) as he seeks to stir up his remaining losers to defend him and donate money to him.  Most respectable African American men have experienced these types of challenges throughout our lifetimes!  “Stand Up!”  Bragg is swinging for the bleachers as “the little stupid people” continue to defend … well … GARBAGE!  While I didn’t mention the corrupt and unstable election results in several African countries, it’s clear that the problem is world-wide.  These “dominators” or “controllers” lose their minds when presented with the opportunity to dominate and ultimately control any affairs that they can get their grimy little paws on!  “Stand UP!”  If we look around the political landscape in the States, we can see how there are some people who recognize the injustices imposed on “people of color” in the States.  While I am MUCH happier here in Talamanca, I continue to “stand up” against controllers, dominators, and racists!  It’s a job that I respectfully step up to take wherever I am!

At this point in my life (retirement), I still face challenges as I notice the lack of respect for seniors and people of color.  I’m not complaining because I know that humans are always trying to get on “the winning side” until they hopefully and finally realize that we are on the same “side” – Humanity.  If we can try to learn to embrace a “common truth(s)” and work together regardless of the color of our skin or the religion we may choose (don’t hurt nobody!), not to mention our financial state, things can turn out better for ALL of us.  Right now, it seems that humanity is “fractured” and either we roll together, or we “self-destruct” together!  Don’t ignore the role of “guns” as it seeks to hollow out humanity!!  I’m sure you’ve heard the axiom, “Live by the sword, die by the sword!”  In part, that’s American History, too!  Right about now, a lot of humans are “standing up”!  Keep in mind, I don’t mind having a little fun, just not at my expense!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

Everybody’s Got A Narrative

Yeah! Yeah, Y’all!  It’s Friday again and I’m about to jump out of my skin with JOY!  TGIF, if you’re up to it!!  You don’t have to be grateful but you’re gonna learn!!  That’s something I’ve learned over and over – BE GRATEFUL!

It’s “Semana Santa” out here in my neck of the woods … where I’m at today … Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica!  I remember one “Easter” when I lived in Cali, Colombia, SA and my Mother came to visit me!!  I was so freakin’ happy … we BOTH were!!  She wanted to know why I returned to teach English in another country just as much as I wanted her to know why!!  I was just coming off of a whirlwind of a divorce and I really HAD to leave the country!!  It was at a time when I KNEW that I was going to do something stupid … so I just left … the country!!  It was a “win/win” for me as I imbibed myself in Spanish and Colombian culture, and taught English at two private secondary schools and two universities in Cali.  The students got a few years, five to be exact, of a very talented African American man … from “Snoop Dogg’s” country!  I kid you not!  Those well off Colombia youth loved Snoop, ‘Pac, and Dr. Dre in Cali!  So, out here in Puerto it’s pretty much tourist and “Tico” madness.  I am so glad that I have my e-bike and can enter or leave the town easily even with all of the traffic which is common for Semana Santa, especially on those “one lane bridges”!  Really, I have calmed down so much that I don’t recognize myself sometimes!!  People gossip, backstab, and do stupid stuff here too and the town is small so everybody “claims” to know YOUR business!  Half of the time, those same people don’t even know what they are doing!!  But, they have enough time to spread nasty rumors about “you” because one (you) is actually doing something positive with their life (lives)!  So, I try consciously to “stay in my lane”!  Trust me, it gets lonely out here in my “magic carpet” lane!! LOL!  But I’m good … not so much traffic “up here”!!  And little to no drama unless I allow myself to be sucked into it.  Lord knows that I didn’t come here to get sucked into OTHER PEOPLE’S DRAMA!

As Semana Santa kicks into high gear out here this weekend, I was feeling a bit mystical … you know … thinking about my Mom and Dad and how we used to dress up and go to church together when I was a kid on Easter Sunday … just the three of us … me in the middle!  I never have spent Easter with my estranged daughter or grandson and that tugs hard on my heart strings.  But THIS is what makes me “ME” … handling the hard stuff pretty much alone!  “It’s a tough job and I have to do it!”  (I do know that “the family spirits” are with me.)

Something that I’ve noticed amidst the “madness and mayhem” going on Stateside is that there are so many narratives out there that some of these people, politicians included … and especially them, can be classified as “insane”!  I mean, damn!!  Now, some want to have two different countries, ie Civil War II, and even some governors act as if they “own” their state!!  It might sound cute as one chooses sides or colors but it looks pretty stupid to me!  I was on social media Thursday morning and noticed a post of a student from the high school where I taught for ten years.  The gent had a Confederate flag stuck to his wall in the background … and he’s from New York!!  I wanted to write him a kind note just to ask him what that flag symbolizes for him.  I decided against it, probably best for now!  The behavior of #45 is unraveling slowly, his comments about people who are doing THEIR job(s) and his continued attempts to claim to be the victim while he lies through his teeth about EVERYTHING he discusses is insane … and people follow him and GIVE the “fake” Millionaire mo’ MONEY!  Is that just stark raving madness or am I missing something?!?

It seems that we live in these “modern times” where everybody wants to be a “rockstar” and thus, has to come up with a narrative.  Some of the narratives are based on lies, pure nonsense, and deceit.  Those narratives can become pretty far-fetched as we observe people playing their “personal madness” out!  Me, I stay clear of that madness as it wrinkles my peace.  But, my heart breaks over and over as I watch these “politicians” attempt to turn back the hands of time to allow them to impose their narrative of “supremacy” and infallibility.  It’s pretty disgusting, to say the least!  This is when an individual MUST know who they are or run the danger of becoming a miniscule part of somebody else’s narrative!  I had one “person” introduce me to some visitors as her “perverted uncle”!  I was like, “No she didn’t!”  But it was clear that she did!  I vacated the premises in hopes that people could see who the real pervert was, and it ain’t hard to tell … unless one has an axe to grind with me.  Believe me, I saw that coming maybe four years ago with this same person!  Things like this can happen in your own family and circle of “friends”, too.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to determine who your “friends” really are nowadays!!  I mean, with everybody spinning their own narratives like the politicians do, it’s become more of a daily challenge … just to LIVE!!

Of course, I have my own narrative which is backed up by experience, facts, and documentation.  I get “challenged” a lot either in person or on social media.  It gets pretty interesting trying to navigate my response with some of these “creatures” who find their way into my life.  It is during moments like these that I embrace the mantras of Educational Excellence …  “Know Thyself!”  or “Be the best that YOU can be!” … and maybe “Be yourself … because you are YOU”!  A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with a guy from the States who some people call a shaman.  I’m glad to call him a friend!  Yet, I do recognize his creative genius in his craft and wanted to give you an opportunity if interested in reading some of Jade Wah’oo Grigori’s contributions to humanity.  He’s the person who generated the concept of “the dominators” to identify those mutated personality types who want to be in control of everything and dominate EVERYBODY.  Visit Jade at: for some interesting “shamanic” readings, information, and thought!

In the meantime, enjoy your Passovers, Easter, Ramadan and other “holy days”, and be sure to include an extra dose of “respect” to make things flow smoothly!  Thank you for reading …


John I. Cook, Director

Keep Assault Weapons? Really?!? What Else???

Well, things worldwide are crazy!!  The only thing that we can really control is “ourselves” …  So, join me in a TGIF, if you’d be so kind!  Thank you All, of course!

Living in the world today is like an adventure in the midst of a jigsaw puzzle!  It seems that while we are being “socialized” (school, church, recreation, sports, etc.), we are also being bombarded with some scary “social” stuff.  It makes being successful or at least competent rather difficult!  Imagine being subject to being bullied by a former president of the country who makes light of a photograph holding a baseball bat in one and “your” photograph being placed right next to his as a threat!  How about living or traveling to a state where the governor’s campaign cry is: “Florida is where woke comes to die!”  How tasteless and classless, not to mention what a horrible “dog whistle”.  How dangerous is such a suggestion for Mr. Bragg and his family as he is simply doing his job.  Meanwhile, the ex-president is facing multiple legal cases and is STILL running for president again while doing massive fund raising!  Are we enjoying the reality tv show now?!?  This character has actually convinced some people in America that he should be president AGAIN!!  How ignorant … as if people haven’t had enough of his “Tom Foolery”!!  “The whole world is watching!!”  When I traveled in Western Europe before coming to Costa Rica circa Fall 2017, the whole world was laughing at how the “arrogant Americans” elected a horse’s arse to lead the country!!

I can’t do the “Let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen again!” speech that comes after every shooting in the States anymore!  When I hear representative Jim Jordan say he is defending the constitution and the second amendment right to bear arms (which was originally intended to make it legal for colonists to defend themselves against the plundering British troops!), it shows that he is not concerned with ANY ones death at the expense of an assault weapon massacre!  Of course, let’s not forget Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comment that not only was the assassin being treated by a doctor but that she was also a transsexual!!  I mean these toxic people take every opportunity to say something low class, callous, and just wrong!  Some supporters of this criminal really need to do a serious reality check! 

I consider myself to be a social scientist not only because I have an acute interest in human interactions in a society but because I attempt to use concepts and theories to explain such behavior and change it, if possible.  There is a professor at my alma mater, Princeton University, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology, who has released a new book called “Poverty By America”.  His name is Matthew Desmond, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin.  This scholar has been involved in investigative research regarding American styled deprivation with a focus on the state of affairs for the poor.  In his studies, he shows how many US policies exploit the poor while simultaneously giving tax breaks to those above the poverty level!!  We know that many of the poor in America are people of color.  That’s the way colonial society was designed and set up!!  For example, last year the poor shouldered over 11.8 billion dollars in overdraft fees.  The “poor” are people who are considered financially vulnerable and financially coping.  I’m impressed sometimes how so many people can still function, get along in society, and not commit crimes given the insurmountable ever-present pressure put on the poor!  It’s still designed that way according to Professor Desmond’s research!  The new “criminal style” leaders have figured out how to use many divisive issues to keep the American people at odds with themselves!  And yes, the whole world is watching as some try to “save” democracy!!  Imagine that in a US city like Nashville, the state government is “sitting on” 1.5 million dollars of federal funds identified for poverty programs in that city alone!  And then, we have events like the recent mass shooting at a religious school where perhaps the perpetrator may have received some professional help via one of those “unfunded” programs!  Child poverty in America is higher than in any other advanced nation in the world! More and more of this type of “theft” or negligence of the poor has been occurring in the heavily populated cities which are breeding grounds for crime and dissension!  Be glad that “you” and I don’t have to deal with this crap!  Sometimes, “The States” looks like a concentration camp for those without and unaware of the means to alleviate their conditions that they have literally found themselves in society!!  If we humans aren’t careful, we will destroy ourselves!!  Enter “AI”!!

In closing, please keep in mind that in many ways, the citizens of the universe are “one”!  We are one!  Why don’t we act like it?  Is it because we are chasing the concept of “power over another” and limitless greed?!?  Well, yes, in case you haven’t noticed!!  “Be the BEST that YOU can be!”

Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

An Alternative to Gloom and Doom …

Happy Friday, Y’all!

You bet!  I’m serious about this “happy” stuff!  We never know how much more time the Earth has to live at the rate things are going so … TGIF with me!!  Cool!!

It’s pretty clear that the whole world is out of control.  Some of us care, others don’t even want to hear it, and still other humans could care less as long as that carrot is dangling in front of their noses!!  Now, while I don’t blame those who don’t want to know about the bad things, the bad is starting to overtake the “good” things.  But what would you rather have happen … arrive in your home country in the middle of Civil War II?  Maybe arrive at your friend’s home in say the Czech Republic to find out that some authoritarian “ruler” is going to drop bombs on the tourist locations in a particular city there??  You STILL don’t want to know?!?  I know … I’ve said it once so I’ll say it again … “Ignorance is bliss …”.  As for me, I ALWAYS like to be well informed!!

About six years ago, I set out looking for a place to retire.  Sometimes I thought about where I wanted to just die.  But, I soon decided that not only was I too young for that, but that I have an opportunity to enjoy what’s left of “Life on Earth”.  You all didn’t think that this greed thing would last forever, right?  At some point, like now, humans must confront the fact that there is not much more to hoard on the Planet in an effort to “make a profit”.  Over the years, I’ve gotten sick of that as I watched and worked with people who had very few, if any, concrete sustainable values.  Like what, you ask?  Like honesty or truth, hard work, cooperation, and collaboration with our fellow humans coupled with a large dose of optimism is what I’m talking about!!  What about you?!?  Well THIS is what Educational Excellence is all about.  The last word says it best … not mediocrity, but excellence in whatever you do!!

It seems that every human “issue” nowadays has to have a monetary answer!  I mean, this money thing doesn’t grow on trees, as my parents used to reiterate whenever we children behaved too carefree!  My parents KNEW the value of money.  Now me, I’m just cheap!  But … the things I have … last a long time … because I take care of them … just the way they taught us!  It’s sad to see that “so-called” leaders have lost their sense of humanity after they struggle to accumulate this man-made concept called “money”!  Now, all I hear from some crazy news commentators is how much “money” it will take to end “Global Warming” … and how many years  it will take to slow it down!!  Don’t hold your breath on that one!!

Me, personally … I just want to maximize what’s left of my life experiences.  Us humans have created so many ways to destroy ourselves (guns and bombs) and our Planet that we are fighting each other for control of (how foolhardy!) that we are NOT even concerned with what we have DONE to the Planet!  When I observe people communicate sometimes and it’s either that religion or this one causing the problem … or, this color or that other color that is causing the problem, I get exhausted!  In observing all of the greed, lust for power that many humans seek coupled with the ignorance that “we” are destroying our “human home”, I get “uncomfortable”.  This is NOT excellence!  This is not progressive!  It definitely is not optimistic!!  When I find myself around that negative vibration (energy), I MUST remove myself … or seek to change it!  For way too long, I have hung around people who were just darn negative and full of hate!  I have evolved and raised my vibration to find my way away from such destructive behavior and hostilities!  One of my spiritual “friends”, “Jade”, uses a term that eliminates the need for the use of racism in placing the blame on, not to mention a particular religion or socio-economic level human who was born into their station of life – The Dominators!  When I utilize this concept in an analysis of what is taking humanity down this deep hole of nothingness and self-destruction, I can identify “the dominators” and we can observe with our OWN EYES (and feel with our bodies) the horrific effects of not being led by these entities, but actually dominated by them!!  Creatures like this suggest that instead of ending the drilling into the Earth’s surface for oil, that we simply calculate how much “man made money” it will take to clean up the mess and side effects that us humans experience everyday!!  These imbalanced “dominators” could care less about anything else except their “man made” (fake) power.  We ALL need to raise our vibrations to counter this spiritual dearth and negative vibrations being thrust down our throats by these selfish dominators!  Thanks “Jade” for your concept … I hope I didn’t misrepresent it!

If WE want alternatives to the “doom and gloom” syndrome that we “regular” humans have found ourselves in, we must identify and demobilize “the dominators”!  When I observe the current Russian dictator or the Chinese dictator, they look a lot like the last “want to be dictator” who infected his way to the highest office in the States!  He’s trying it again as we speak!!  So, if you have negative repercussions from the confusion of “the dominators”, seek optimism in your interactions with other humans!  Expel those insecurities and join with like-minded humans who actually want to SAVE humanity!  Get rid of those “taught” prejudices and embrace the diversity eminent in the human race!

Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

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