Tally Ho!

Happy Friday, All!

And just in case you don’t want to say it today, I’ve got it for you – T.G.I.F.!

Can you believe it is almost July, and the 4th is right around the corner?!  Holy Independence Day, Batman!  Yes, yes, yes … I am feeling kind of childish today and try not to lose that bit of youth as I mature along this journey.  What about you all?  I also hope that you enjoyed the piece on Wednesday done by Ms. Gabe Tunnage on the 2012 Olympic Games.  I did!  Please, keep in mind, if you’d like to do something similar, E.E.’s pages are open!

In living in our world today, it seems we’ve gotten closer and knowledge is more available to us by using the internet and search engines like “Google” and “Bing”.  Yesterday at work, we were joking about how the use of Encyclopedias has become outdated, extinct perhaps!  Do any of you remember those things?  My parents had a set for us to use at home in our 3-bedroom apartment there in the Winbrook Housing Project in White Plains, NY and I can only tell you that there were many many a report written from information that we found in those now archaic things.  I still  remember how proud they were – my parents – when we got a new set to place on the bookcase in the corridor connecting the front rooms and kitchen to the bathroom and our three bedrooms – one for Edna and Barbara, one for Mom and Dad, and the one closest to the bathroom for me and Hank!  Those were the days, almost like “Good Times”!  (By the way, did you know that Jay Leno got his first acting role through the suggestion of Jimmy “J.J.” Walker as an extra in “Good Times”?  Saw it on the news yesterday!)

Anyway, I am psyched for Summer, as a college chum and his wife, Lee Blair and Toni, are in town this weekend.  We plan to meet tomorrow night.  And next week’s 4th of July is also my father Isaac’s birthday (RIP), and the following weekend on Friday the 13th, yep, is my birthday!  Is that enough to be excited about!?  Okay, then on the 12th of July, my college room mate from Princeton, Coach Armond “Doc” Hill aka “Army” I’ve recently learned, of the Boston Celtics will be in Orlando, FL for a golf tournament with Doc Rivers, and, on the 27th, former timbale player in our band from New York, Frank Jones, will be in Orlando, too!  I’ve got my friends in sight so . . . “Tally Ho!”

Have a wonderful Friday and a fantastic weekend!


John I. CookRed rose, Director


“Let The Games Begin!”

Howdy, Partners!

Happy Hump Day!

Just yesterday, I was on the favorite social network nowadays called Facebook.  A young lady that I refer to fondly as “my adopted spiritual daughter”, Natasha Carrilles, had posted something about changing your routine!  I jokingly responded, “Are you talking to me?!”  To which she replied, “No, mostly to myself.”  How sweet of her … how correct of her, as well.  So, today’s e-mail is a change of routine for me and EE.  I’ve a professional and personal friend, Ms. Gabrielle Tunnage, who replied to my Monday message about the Miami HEAT and stuff.  She simply said, “Hmmm.  No mention of the Olympic trials 100 meters women’s finals?”  So, I suggested she contribute to today’s e-mail!  Change!

Here it is:

While many of you watched the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship, others (me) watched the Olympic Trials for the games that are set to begin on July 27th in London.

The track and field semi-finals began on Thursday night and continued all weekend, with the most excitement in the Women’s 100 meter final that ended in a photo finish for third place. I am an avid fan of track and field, (I ran for Dillard High School, FTL back in the day) I continue to follow the sport, and love to watch the athletes give it their all to compete before the world. However, based on the photo-finish either Allyson Felix or Jeneba Tarmoh’s years of training may end with the toss of a coin. Now back in the day when there was a tie, we all looked forward to a run off. But it seems that Olympic Officials are looking to end this tie with the toss of a coin? How do you rationalize your hopes and dreams ending with the toss of a coin? I for one would rather see the young women determine their own fate, especially since they are training partners and share a coach. This is definitely a ‘to be continued’, since both will compete later this week in the 200 meter.  Maybe one of the two will qualify and both will be able to go. Oh be still my heart.
The swimming trails began last night and as most are looking for Michael Phelps to become the most decorated athlete in the world if he is able to earn gold again. Disappointment has already begun, as Bryan Clay faced several challenges and was eliminated and will not go to London in the decathlon.
So let the games begin!      (Author: Gabrielle Tunnage)
Gabe, as she likes to be called, worked with the Urban League of Broward County’s “Project Embrace” a few years back when me and EE were just getting started here in Broward County.  We are still friends, mostly by internet, and I welcomed her suggestion.  Do any of you have a suggestion or two for me?!  Feel free!  Maybe you’d like to send me an article of your choice!
Enjoy your Hump Day!
John I. CookRed rose, Director

New Day, A New Week … A Misty Morning Sunrise!

Happy Monday morning, All!

On days like this, here in SoFlo it is cloudy and the sky is completely grey, I need to recall how Robin Williams (comedian/actor) woke up the troops on the radio broadcast in Vietnam during that horrific war with: “Good Morning Vietnam!!!”  Then, of course, I want to reach the sleepy heads who are struggling to get out of bed today with all the warm weather in most parts of the world and summer has set in in the Western Hemisphere.

As well, here’s to hoping your weekends went well.  Now, I know there are some not Miami HEAT fans out there, which is cool.  Yet, I have to tip my hat to the boys for sucking up all the criticism and their own “non-championship” performance last year when they lost to the Dallas MAVERICKS in the finals, to put it together this year and show that they can win at least ONE NBA championship!  I am a fan of game of basketball and enjoy what for me is often like “ballet with a basketball”, silly right!?  Here in SoFlo, there were many many parties to celebrate the “White Hot HEAT” and their title, and, the parade is today.  I hope it is not a wash out for the sake of all the fans who will be showing up to support the team.

Saturday, I arrived at West Broward High School at 11AM where the coach there was having a tournament.  Now it was very unorganized, unfortunately, and communication was poor, as the venues changed and the times changed but the kids and parents remained supportive and helped make it work.  I was there almost all day Saturday to assist the head coach who had still more new players added to our chameleon team that very day.  The kids just wanted to play basketball!  The good thing was that when I arrived, there was a low buzz going on in the gym while the kids played.  People were looking around until one of the parents came up to me and asked, “Did you see who is here?”  I replied no to which he followed up, “Mike Miller from the HEAT is here.  His little boy is playing the next game!”

Mike had hit like 24 points or so in that final game, which is the most he has scored in a game with the HEAT ever!  I had seen him around Imperial Point where he and his family live, since he goes to the same Publix Supermarket where I shop.  It is an upscale neighborhood not too far from the flat where I live in Fort Lauderdale.  He has this swagger about him like he is always hurting.  He probably is, as his list of recent injuries is extensive.  So there he was with his lovely wife in jean shorts and sneakers and a t-shirt, wearing red shorts and a red t and matching cap turned backwards holding his little baby girl sitting on the side lines with all the other parents!  He was humble and kind and took pictures with nearly all the boys’ teams as well as the parents.  On his way out of the gym, I thanked him for hanging out with the kids, his wife chuckled at my comment and he gave me “five” and meandered out the door!

“Some people greet the morning with a smile, but it’s more natural to protest its presence with sleepy sulkiness.  ‘Who asked you to come again?’ we feel like saying to it, as if it were a most unwelcome guest.”   – Brendan Francis

Today, I will admit my true feelings and accept them as stepping-stones.

Hope you have a great day and a wonderful week!


John I. Cook, Director


Happy Friday, All!

In pursuit of happiness, I would like to T.G.I.F.!

Do any of you remember the movie, “In Pursuit of Happyness”? It starred Will Smith and essentially was about a man who believed in himself through tremendous odds, and “made good of himself”! Did any of you like the movie? I did. Now that is not to say that we have to like what another person likes or anything. It is also not to say that what YOU may like is superior to what anyone else may like. For me, the movie was about a person who believed in himself. I have never worked in a stock market in any aspect mainly because I don’t like that kind of pressure and I am not so good with numbers … yep, that’s me! Now, I can usually wrap my head around maintaining a budget, for the most part, but investment and figuring out how to maximize my profit margin is not my forte, though sometimes, I wish it were!

Well, being a New Yorker from birth living in South Florida, I’ve had to “wrap me head around” a few things since I’ve been here. Made some mistakes, had some misfortune and even made some “not so good” decisions. Now, just to balance things out, I have made some pretty good decisions and try to make a positive difference today in spite of some of my shortcomings. Of course, I know that, for example, when I write these e-mails, there may be those who don’t like or believe nor agree with what I may say or suggest. Yet, I continue on my journey and hope I am reaching some, jogging others memories and just plain old “laying my cards on the table” … and I thank you all for your support as well as welcome your suggestions. I may not take all of your suggestions and you may not give me any indeed. But I still try to make a difference in a positive way. And, again … I thank each of you for that opportunity … believe that!

I have a friend who has a “necklace” type ornament hanging in her car from the rear view mirror. It says, “Believe”. I could stop this e-mail here and ask each of you to ponder that word and what it means in your life because it is a powerful word. Now, I am not on this Earth to judge anyone but have had people judge me before, even in courtrooms, and, in some peoples minds or unofficial courtrooms. I have had people say, “Well, you went to Princeton! Why didn’t you make more of yourself?!” I can look at that person and find lots of faults in their character and their lives while they may have more money and imagined power than I do. Yet, that is NOT something I focus on today, thank God … I focus on believing in myself, and …. humanity …. and our ability to overcome evil, as it lurks EVERYWHERE, with love!

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
PS – Just want to tip my hat to the MIAMI HEAT, the winners of this year’s NBA Championship!

“Just Wait …”

Happy Hump Day, All!

Once again we have arrived at the middle of the week and I am getting excited again!  I know, I know … it is silly, but life is too short not to be excited about good things in our lives!

Have you ever had a surprise experience with someone or something or a situation that you weren’t expecting?  Yes, I am sure you must have …. several times over … if you live on the same planet that I do!  I have had a few surprises recently – some good, and some not so good!  Either way, I have learned over the years to go with the flow, take my hard knocks, learn some new lessons and get right back up again, brush myself off and keep movin’!

Many basketball fans have been keeping an eye on the NBA Finals as well as the Play Offs that led up to them.  So much excitement, and, so much disappointment because only ONE team can win!  Is life that way?  Can we ALL “win”, so to speak?  Or does someone or some of us have to lose?  Have you ever had a disagreement with someone?  How did you handle it?  Did you destroy the friendship and go looking for a replacement?  Is that really how life is?

Enough questions.  In my life time, I have seen people, or even institutions exercise that “Just Wait!” attitude.  One can hardly wait to “pay someone back” for what they said or didn’t say or did.  We call it “revenge”!  Is it really sweet … or is it immature?  Do we live in a world where “revenge rules”?  Or can we forgive one another for our mistakes and still seek peace?

“Wait’ll next year!” is the favorite cry of baseball fans, football fans, hockey fans (basketball fans, too!), and gardeners.”  Robert Orben

Today, nothing is perfect, but hope underlies everything.  With the return of hope, I have my life back again.

Have a great Hump Day, y’all!


Post Father’s Day: Love and Peace!


And a Happy Monday to you All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well, especially for the “Fathers” both near and wide, past and present … and those in the everafter … peace be still!

I can only say that the weekend was wonder-filled for me. You guys know I still like to hang out, listen to music, maybe even shake a tail feather with my friends at the local club. So, Friday night, Brian Sarceno whom we call “B-Love” had a gigantic birthday bash at Capone’s Nightclub in downtown Fort Lauderdale! It was pretty cool as there was a variety of entertainment including an ice sculpture and some Japanese style dressed Geisha Dancers! It was a fun time but I had to leave early to be up and at the dentist at 10am Saturday morning. A good time was had by all … and a safe time as well!

Saturday was an errand day and I ended it with a practice with the boys from the AAU Basketball League. We have our third tournament this weekend and for Friday’s game, I may be acting “head coach” since the organizer of the team who is the head coach can not get off work from his second job. I am prepared to step up to the plate and coach the boys for Friday. All in all we have 5 games this weekend.

Now as most of you may know by now, I am an avid fan of basketball and just love the level of competition this year in the NBA Playoffs! It has been stellar and obviously could go “either way”, as said by the players for the team known as the Miami Heat who seek to win their first championship with “The Big Three” representing the “305”. Oklahoma has a stellar cast as well and don’t seem to have any other intentions except winning, too! Yes, yes, …. I love this game!

Now Sunday was a “smash hit” where certain things that happened like getting a Happy Father’s Day wish from my only child – Ayanna Lynne. I also received a bunch of text messages, phone calls and e-mails from many friends and family members. As well as even a photo was posted on Facebook by my daughter as I held her on my lap and fed her some birthday cake during one of her early years birthday parties … I can only tell you how happy, proud and humbled I was by the kindness of she and so many many people including Sally Davis, a dear “new” friend. Yet, I would like to praise The Creator whom I choose to call God today for the blessing of being a father in someone’s life on such a special day. I even got a “love you/Happy Father’s Day” text from Tashi, whom I have been like a father to and she like a daughter to me in my years here in So Flo! What a joy … what a pleasure … what an experience that I will take with me to the grave and Heaven.

A warm thanks to Maureen Shimmon Leon who responded to my query on Friday why children have a seemingly warmer connection with mothers than with fathers, in general. She reminded me that mothers carry a baby in their bodies for 9 months or so, so a common bond is created from conception. Thanks, Maureen ….

Have a great week in Peace!

John I. Cook, Director

“If The Shoe Fits, Wear It!”

Happy Friday, All!

Just when you thought I wouldn’t, I did!  Thank God It’s Friday!

The weekend has arrived … well, almost.  Isn’t it amazing how so many people on the Earth look forward to Fridays!?  Some of us work Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays, but there is traditionally something about Friday that makes it so nice!  Be sure to enjoy it, okay?!

This weekend also holds a pretty important day on Sunday – Father’s Day!  Most of us seem to have a bit more love in the air around Mother’s Day but not so much on Father’s Day.  I am not really sure but people seem to love mothers in our culture more than fathers.  We may be socialized like that, you know, to believe and feel that mothers are more nurturing and caring and loving than a father.  A father is supposed to be like a tough guy who never wavers under pressure, is the major bread winner for the family and the one who is supposed to protect and shield the family from danger ….  Might that be a stereotype, too?

Often, a father leaves a lot to be desired by the child and mother.  Yet, I do know of some fine gentleman who seemed to “have broken the mold” when God made fathers!  In the background of my mind’s thoughts, I hear the James Brown song: “This is a man’s world! …. but it would be nothing, not one little thing … without a woman or a girl!”  For those father’s who have earned it, Happy Father’s Day!

Like most things in life, whether it is “good” to us or not, we can learn something from it … or, in this case … him.

“A father is a thousand schoolmasters.”  – Louis Nizer

I will make peace with my father in my mind, and his strength and that of his father will be a well-spring in my life.  (TOUCHSTONES June 15th)

May we remember the lessons that our fathers did … or did not teach us … they are still our fathers … peace be still!

Sincerely yours,

John I. CookRed rose, Director


Hump Day, Bad Luck & The Number 13

Happy Hump Day, All!

Each time each week when I arrive at “Hump Day”, there is a certain amount of festivity brewing in me.  Why?  Well . . . we have reached the middle of another week . . . successfully!  I have occasionally asked myself, “Will there come a day when I cease writing these e-mails?”  Some of you may wish it to come sooner than later!!! Just kidding, but I really appreciate you special “peeps” for graciously receiving these e-mails.  There is a method to my madness.  Peace be still . . .

Today is the 13th … and it is a Wednesday.  I was born on the 13th of July.  This year, next month, my birthday falls on a Friday the 13th.  What shall I do?  Well, I have some temporary plans like maybe going up to Orlando to see a good friend Frank Jones – the same one that I used to play in a band with who reconnected me with Armond Hill, since he and Armond and Doc Rivers of the Celtics may be in town for a summer golf tournament or the basketball camp.  Or, I may hang out here on the beach in the FTL … maybe go parasailing … or just have a fine meal somewhere.  Even a day cruise to the Bahamas has crossed my mind, since a few years back, I did that and had a blast.  Of all my options, “bad luck” is NOT one of them!  No Fear – of the number 13 here!

“Life is an ongoing experience with two opposing forces.  One force is constantly building up, and the other is constantly tearing down … There are forces supporting our self-esteem and forces tearing us down.  Friends who wish us well, goodwill and generosity among people, and the momentum of our healthy actions are constructive forces in our lives …”  Needless to say, there are those who wish us ill and try to slow or stop the momentum of our healthy actions and constructive forces in our lives.  Who shall we join?  Is that even a question?!!!

“You must fight off a ‘bad luck’ way of thinking as if you were dealing with an invasion of hostile forces – for that is precisely what you are dealing with.”   – Maxwell Maltz

Today, by the grace of God, I will join the forces that are on my side.  I will stand up for myself and my worth.   (TOUCHSTONES June 13th)

Have a great Hump Day, and …. “May the Force be with you!”


John I. CookRed rose, Director

Measure This!

Top o’ the morning to you All!

With all of the excitement coming out of Great Britain for Prince Philip’s 91st birthday and, last weekend’s celebration’s there in his absence, I thought I’d borrow a British phrase to start the morning off! It is a lovely country, as I had a chance to visit it while teaching European History at White Plains High School. London was an intriguing place to visit including Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Square/Circus, 10 Downing Street, Big Ben and the magnificent view of the Thames River. The Royal Museum takes a few days to visit with all of its many fine exhibits and displays! Simply marvelous!

Yet, the place I am from and the place I will stay, more than likely, is the Grand Ole USA! Always something exciting going on here … “from Sea to shining Sea!” One of my most growth producing era’s here was my time in college. Since I initially wanted to study Psychology, I often gravitated toward studies that involved a lot of “test and measurements”. In psychology, for example, one would become obsessed with measuring IQ (intelligence quotient). As I found my way into more socially oriented studies including social psychology, I found a preoccupation in determining the accuracy of a study’s findings by measuring the standard deviation. Kenneth Clark and Karen Kaiser Clark were amongst the psychologist that intrigued me most in addition to studies by B. F. Skinner and Pavlov.

“Our society places great emphasis on how well each person is doing. It makes us judgmental and competitive … We can’t stop the measuring …” Still there is much more to each of us than what can be measured by a test, scale or score, even in athletic competitions like basketball games and baseball games as well as tennis matches. Have you ever tried to measure love, loyalty or peace? Not so easy to ascertain any scale that holds mathematical measurements for values and philosophies, perhaps.

We learned so much in college courses that we are a product of our environment. We studied the juxtaposition between “nature vs. nurture” theories. I found that we are a combination of them both! So, in essence, may we be cognizant of the multifaceted characteristics of our human personalities and not limit ourselves to being able to measure values like respect, honesty, peace and wholeness. May we embrace each other along this journey and continually lift each other up.

“We are each so much more than what some reduce to measuring.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

Today, I will remember that my value as a man (or woman) isn’t measured on a man-made scale. (TOUCHSTONES June 11th)

Have a wonderful Monday and a great week!


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
ps – An additional special thanks to Coach Armond “Doc” Hill of the Boston Celtics, my former room mate at Princeton, who provided me with some great seats to see Game 7 of the Play Off match with the Miami Heat this past weekend! Can’t measure that kind of friendship either.

In The Beginning ….

Happy Friday, All!

Well, I know you are waiting for this, so … T.G.I.F.!  At least, I was waiting for it … that is Friday … and to thank My Creator for another opportunity to make a difference.

How has “life” been treating you lately?  Better yet, how have YOU been treating your “life”?  With care and precaution?  With love and understanding?  Are you getting to know yourself each and every day … those things that really “work” for you as opposed to those things you really “lust” for, in a sense?  I hope each of you are treating yourselves well.

Here of late, many changes have come to my own life, some of which I cherish while others I learn from and try to discard them quickly.  Have you ever considered how we were created?  Many of us have chosen the “Big Bang” theory, while others cling to the “Adam and Eve” interpretation of life.  Some of us don’t consider anything and live as we wish.  Yet, perhaps, there are those of us more concerned with spirituality than answering every scientific question with a provable fact!  That can be life consuming, if you will.

If you had a chance to speak with your Creator, what would you say to It!?  Do you meditate … or pray?  Do you care about anything other than your day to day conquests and achievements?  I know I have thrown out a lot of questions, many that I think about each day myself.  So, I try to study those who came before us … both human and apparently “super” natural, if you will.  I choose love!

“Come, Love! Sing On!  Let me hear you sing this song – sing for you and laugh, for I the creator am truly subject to all creatures.”   – Mechtild of Magdeburg

Praise the spirit of our Creator for all that is given to us.   (TOUCHSTONES June 8th)

Have a wonderful weekend!


John I. CookRed rose, Director

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