The Mayan Calendar

Happy Friday, Earthlings!

Yes, and since I am still here today, I’d like to say T.G.I.F.! What about you?

Stories of long ago, often called “history”, fuel our intrigue regarding what we can anticipate in the future. It is like everybody has a take on what’s going to happen if …. You can complete the sentence as well as I, if you like. The thing that drives my curiosity is where do us Earthlings get these predictions from? Do some of us have supernatural powers while others are just occupying space (or Wall Street!) in these bodies until they each expire? How optimistic that type of thinking is, right?!

Do you think anyone predicted that Hurricane or Tropical Storm Isaac would hit New Orleans “7 years later and 7 hours earlier” than Hurricane Katrina did? If so, why didn’t they tell somebody!?! We are facing probably one of the hardest times in human history, economically, physically, emotionally and yes …. spiritually! Believe it … or not! Everyone talks about what would have happened and what should have happened, and, the funny thing (or tragic thing) is that people believe them. It depends on how high up “the totem pole” you are as to whether people believe you or not. It also depends upon how much fanfare and fiasco one puts on in presenting ones point of view! Very few people listen to what they are being told, and, even fewer people are able to process what they are being told and simultaneously compare it to a situation that one has witnessed and experienced that may support or refute what one is being told at any given time.

Some of us are still anticipating what may happen on December 12th, 2012! What do you think will happen? “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?”, as the pop group Chicago sang many years ago in one of their popular tunes! You can look at the lyrics when and if you’ve time or interest. Us Earthlings like being a part of a group, a family, cheering for a particular team or state as much as some of us like affiliating ourselves with a particular political party. Aren’t we already part of one of the most spectacular miracles of the galaxy as we know it? Do we have any pride in our existence here on planet Earth while it appears we have lost our direction as a civilization? Can we really rise above a particular affiliation and be proud that we are Earthlings together on a journey? Well … if that is too much to think about, then, we may be suffering from and simply be characteristic of “the sign of the times” we live in . . .

Enjoy the beautiful “Blue Moon” tonight, and, all in all, have a great Labor Day Weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Learn By Doing

Happy Hump Day, All!

Well, it is mid-week of the last week of August and there is a full moon rising going on. Tonight is “Bike Night” here in Ft. Lauderdale and I miss riding the Night Hawk on days like these. However, I would much rather have a vehicle with a roof when it comes to the rainy and hurricane season like we have been experiencing here these past few months. Life is full of changes, and, it is imperative to be able to adjust to the times and circumstances and make a change.

So, this past weekend, starting Friday, it seems the ethernet connection shut down on my desk top computer, which is a 6 year old Hewlett Packard Pavillion. I called Comcast who sent two techs over to test the equipment first and, as I suspected, the modem was faulty as well. So, they changed that, and I had to switch my laptop over to the landline in my flat. Of course, there were some connections that I was not familiar with as well as a lot about the laptop that I was not familiar with since I hadn’t used it much. Hint: It was time to start using it more, which was why I got it for Christmas – to complete my third book – and now was the best time! Imagine that, planning ahead “paying off”, in a sense, though not monetarily … not yet, at least! So, Educational Excellence is up and running from a laptop and all the things I had done on the desk top I am now doing with the laptop …. believe it or not!

The Republican Convention has kicked off here in Florida, though a bit North of here in Tampa. That is where my mother grew up in the area of Ybor City and Lakeland. Memories of trips there when I was just a kid still meander through my thoughts from time to time. I have noticed, as well as the rest of America and the world, that this presidential campaign and election is a lot less civilized than anything I have witnessed in my lifetime, at least. Between the two parties, I have noticed much more wide spread mudslinging, and to me what appears to be very calculated “unprofessionalism”, though to me, one side is far more hostile than the other. True, it is the sign of the times. Yet, for me, it demonstrates and illustrates how far down we have fallen in terms of trying to win something while attempting to discredit the competition. It seems that one party has a lot more money and resources to “sling mud” and has utilized a lot more techniques to see if they can literally “brainwash” Americans into voting one way or another. One party is actually preying upon the ignorance and emotions of either racist citizenry or emotional citizenry to dull their intellectual abilities, whatever that may be, and choose a more hostile purportedly “American Way” to secure the White House! Sometimes, this election campaigning seems like an episode from “The Little Rascals” as Spanky and his gang of multicultural friends are trying to keep Butch and his cronies from tearing apart “Our Gang”. But this is a lot more serious … it is national politics, which in turn will effect the way we are seen by the rest of the world … and each other.

I’m done here … I don’t talk much about politics from Educational Excellence’s platform … so, I’m done!


John I. Cook, Director

“What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do?”

Happy Monday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well. While I haven’t heard much else about the shooting in New York City by the disgruntled fashion design worker who had been laid off, I did hear that all of the “other” people who were shot were shot by the New York City Police Department …. hmmmmm ….

Here in South Florida, we have been facing winds and rains from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac. It will become an official hurricane once it reaches category one status and the winds inside the core have reached a certain mph. It seems that we have “dodged a bullet”, so to speak, and we have been spared destruction like the damage in disaster ridden Haiti since the storm has gone to the Gulf of Mexico. I am glad for that. The decision has been made to move forward with the Republican (GOP) Party Convention scheduled for Tuesday in Tampa, FL. As well, I am glad for that! New Orleans may be the next target as it approaches the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday was a fair day after a weekend of hanging with friends downtown Fort Lauderdale and enjoying several “hurricane parties”! I hunkered down at home, made my favorite Sunday morning breakfast of French toast and bacon with a scrambled egg and coffee on the side. I also streamed service with Pastor Bob at Calvary Chapel where the 12:30pm service was somewhat well attended by people in spite of the rampant wind and rains. The topic for the sermon is the same as this e-mail’s title – What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Now most people would respond, “Oh I always know what I am going to do at all times!” out of pride or a desire to seem that one is always in control of things. Yet, most of us humans know that we learn through trial and error HOW to decide what to do in different situations, especially since life is unpredictable and we can never determine what we are going to face let alone how to face those situations. While I have made some hasty decisions in the past, I have learned to take more time in determining how I will respond to any given situation. In fact, the most valuable tool for me is to adopt an attitude of peace, avoid violence and seek the best “teaching perspective” to handle any given situation. Pastor Bob was cool, humorous and honest as he mentioned how when faced with situations and decisions for this weekend, he was helped by his wife to remember how Jehoshaphat handled some Biblical situations that he was faced with by keeping his eyes on God.

Usually, there is no easy way of handling difficult decisions which is why it is exactly that – a difficult decision. One thing I have come to grips with in facing difficult decisions is to stop and count to ten … meditate or pray … to reduce the amount of emotional energy that may hinder my thinking process. In addition, I think of others who may be affected by my decision … those who love me as well as those who would only talk about me. Finally, I look for an opportunity to learn and teach all involved and affected by my decision. That all takes time! Pastor Bob’s decisions for the church service as well as scheduled guests for Sunday afternoon and evening services took into account similar considerations, yet on a much higher scale than anything I have ever faced!

What about you? Have you thought about that lately? If not, do so. If so, perhaps, you could re-examine your “steps” to what to do … when you don’t know what to do! Otherwise, continue your life of perfection.

Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director

Hurricane Isaac?

Happy Friday, All!

Yes, as is customary, T.G.I.F.!

Well, it seems we have made it through another week so far, right?! Another day along this journey, another day in “Paradise” … Well, except perhaps for Lance Armstrong, former 7 Title Holder for the Tour de France, who has ended his fight against doping charges in professional cycling … hmmmm. While there seems to be a dispute regarding who has jurisdiction over anti-doping activities, the USADA has promised to strip Armstrong of his titles and impose a lifetime ban on him forbidding Armstrong to participate in any professional cycling activities hereafter. It was nice to see that NO Americans have suffered such a fate in the stellar performances in the Olympic Games in London 2012 thus far. May we continue in that manner.

Here of late, there have been comparisons of the tropical storm Isaac to the historical Hurricane Andrew approximately twenty years ago. In South Florida, preparations have begun for its ETA this weekend. As it’s wind and rain bands threaten to hit Puerto Rico, Haiti and The Dominican Republic, Cuba is the next target, as indicated by the “cone” of travel for the storm. People in “The Keys” are still enjoying the fine weather as of last night. While many South Floridians think that the storm will not affect us here, there are others who are taking preventative measures to protect their homes and families from any potential danger. Though I live fairly close to convenience stores and have enough water for my household, I may pick up a few canned goods this weekend just in case.

There are a lot of jokes going around with the photograph of Isaac from “The Love Boat” on the “cone” and its path, I can only provide one … my father’s name (RIP since 1989) is Isaac Henry Cook, and I follow in his footsteps with the name of John Isaac Cook! Not funny?! Well, I guess you are right … because we both are tender “Teddy Bears”, so to speak, but not afraid to defend ourselves and our families. It would be nice to have a somewhat “storm-less” weekend, especially with all the comparisons to Hurricane Andrew two decades ago. Still, better safe than sorry!


John I. Cook, Director

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Howdy, Y’all!

Happy Hump Day to youse! Well, I am feeling a bit under the weather today but I am glad I was able to wake up, contact a few people and let them know that since my sinuses were acting up, I would be taking a sick day. Now, a year ago … even a few months ago … we could take a sick day on my job, but it was always “unpaid”. Recently, over the past few months, the marketing company I work for in Boca Raton, FL has transformed itself into a total LLC, so to speak, including medical insurance, sick days and vacation time – both paid! I remember when I had my motorcycle spill back in March of this year, I went to work the NEXT day, on the same vehicle I had the spill on (almost no damage done to the NightHawk), and worked right through my recovery period with stitches in both legs and wearing shorts, which is normally not permitted. So, I am glad to take a sick day for sinus irritation today!

Some years ago, when my mother was alive and I was seeking different venues to publish my writings, I submitted a short story to Ebony Magazine as part of a literature contest. It was called “A Bridge Unmoved”. It was a story about the cherished relationship between my mother, Marietta Dolores, and I. I didn’t win the contest but they did write me back to encourage me to keep writing. This idea of “bridges” comes up because of some challenges I am facing right now in transition from “biker” to vehicle owner, as well as in increased financial responsibilities that go with that as well as handling some unexpected things like back taxes. So, when I got home yesterday after work, I laid down because I was a bit tired. My body was telling me to rest while my sinuses were getting ready to act up! So, I did … and so did my sinuses!

When I woke up from my cat nap, I had things running around my mind like cars in the Indy 500! I had to quiet those thoughts but wasn’t feeling like going to the gym. So, I took a quick cruise for some errands, came back home, made a light dinner and watched a cooking show or two. Before falling off to sleep, I thought hard and long, as I am still this morning, on how my mother and father might handle some of the things I am experiencing now. So … I started to focus on my blessings and remind myself that “This too shall pass”!

Have a great day, all!


John I. Cook, Director

Back To The Beginning

Happy Monday, all!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well and that you were able to rise and shine this morning with a song in your heart, if only of peace and gratitude. I have been feeling pretty good health wise, and was able to make it to the gym four times last week just to keep this body in moderate shape … while I can. You may recall an e-mail I sent last week entitled “Back To School Days” but more importantly, it is taking place today in South Florida’s public schools and some colleges, too! I remember the excitement even when I taught surrounding a new school year. While there was always lots of work and changes in our schedules and class rosters, there was always some underlying excitement to tackle a new school year together.

Yesterday, I visited my good friend with many members of his family there as well. I mention him because he has not only a daughter who is beginning her senior year, but a nephew on the west coast of Florida who starts college today! His daughter was all excited about last minute school shopping as well as what she may be pursuing in her college years to follow. It’s so nice to see the youth being excited in a positive way about life. I even noticed on Facebook that two college chums, Lee Blair and George Branche, both have kids in college, the former’s son finishing his last year and playing lacrosse, and the latter’s daughter starting her first year!

While we had a lot of rain this weekend, which was needed, I was able to get things done including a nice long rainy afternoon nap on Saturday after running errands all morning. Saturday night, I joined a good friend and a few of her friends at Blue Martini to celebrate her birthday. Her actual birthday is Wednesday but we got a head start on things! Sunday morning I made breakfast and washed and dried clothes simultaneously, and, streamed a very cool service from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Pastor Bob was back at the podium and had a super message for us regarding our Creator (God) and the gifts bestowed upon each of us – God’s Gifts. I enjoyed his presentation as he continued to take words out of a box that illustrated and stated different gifts that each of us may receive from birth or training or natural interest. He also mentioned “the fruits of the spirit” including peace, love, forbearance, kindness, gentleness of spirit and self control. For me, these things are most important in living a fruitful life and in maximizing our individual gifts.

After giving my co-worker and good friend Marie Achille a call yesterday, it has been discovered that H.E.R.O. will be receiving another donation of book bags for some of the families who didn’t get them the weekend before last when she had the “Back To School” program here in Oakland Park, FL. I called one of the parents to let them know that the book bags/back packs should be available Tuesday (tomorrow) and I hope to pick them up from Marie and deliver them to the mother and kids.

May we continue moving forward even when things in life take us “back to the beginning”!


John I. Cook, Director


Happy Friday, All!

As is customary in this “spiritual neck of the woods”, T.G.I.F.!

Sometimes, I want to say or write something, and I immediately remember some words from a song. Like, “I’ve been so many places in my life and time ….” immediately jogs my memory for “A Song For You”, one of my favorite renditions done by Ray Charles. Yet, I continue with the thought. There are some places I have been that you may not have been nor even heard of while there are some places I’ve been that I hope you never go, peace be still . . . As well, I am sure many of you have been places that I’ve never been nor heard of as well. Still, one of my favorite sayings is, “Home is where the heart is”. We can go as many places as we can imagine, but we will always . . . ALWAYS . . . return to that place deep within ourselves. Namaste . . .

This journey that we are all embarked upon that we choose to call “life” is one that most of us figure out along the way, since there is no users manual provided at birth! I remember one service at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale when Pastor Bob referred to the Bible as the instruction manual for life. While there are some of us who are religious, I choose to be spiritual, though I have read the Bible from front cover to back cover while I served time here in Broward County Jail. It was a short stint and I thank my Creator for it, as redundant as it may sound. I practiced yoga there, I read scriptures and did Bible studies alone and with other inmates. I taught English to my fellow Spanish speaking inmates and I even taught yoga class once a week during our “free” time. I also wrote my first two books while there . . . peace be still! Some people tell me not to tell others about this but I am sure anyone could find out if they wanted to. Besides, that was like 10 years ago.

Today, I find myself facing more bills than income (anyone with me on that one?), yet I do have a job and a place to stay, thanks to some good souls and flexible people I have had the pleasure of knowing. One of my best friends is struggling from ALS and he happens to be fairly successful in this “life”, so to speak. I stay as close to him as I can without becoming a nuisance to he and his family. In the midst if this portion of my journey, I am glad to be able to give back whatever I have which I feel is a loving and caring spirit, full of warmth and comradery for those who can appreciate it. I am not calculated, not wealthy, nor am I a successful businessman. Still, I have been told that I am a good friend and a hard worker while others may say to me on occasion, especially when we disagree, that they’d like nothing to do with me!

Nowadays, my life is pretty simple. I go to work each day and do my best, and, I enjoy working out a bit each week doing yoga twice a week and lifting weights and leg and cardio exercises when possible. Of course, what you are reading is a major part of my life, and, I utilize it to communicate with others some of my personal anecdotes as well as to market my services for Educational Excellence. While my third book is “a work in progress”, I often find myself preoccupied with the aforementioned to get much done in chunks of writing, if you will. I anticipate completing it before I expire.

So, in other words, Happy Friday … and I am sending this “song” to you!


John I. Cook, Director

Back To School Days

Happy Hump Day, All!

Yes, we’ve arrived at the middle of another week, the half-way mark, aka “hump day”! Other than Chad Johnson (aka Ocho Cinco), originally from Florida, I haven’t heard any serious horror stories lately, and, while grave, his wasn’t so bad. According to the news sources and police in Davie, FL (and a neighbor), Chad, who was in position to play for the Miami Dolphins this season, had a disagreement with his wife over a receipt apparently for condoms that she found in the trunk of his car while removing groceries. Has that ever happened to you? Me neither … especially after 6 weeks of marriage to a rather gorgeous reality show star. There was to be a television series on VH1, I believe, focusing on the couple. So, he lost a job with the Dolphins, a starring role in a reality tv show, and … perhaps a wife, with one stupid head butt! It’s the kind of thing that makes one go “hmmmm…..”!

Well, this past weekend, I had the pleasure of doing a “Back to School” presentation with my friend Marie Achille and H.E.R.O. (Humanitarian Emergency Resource Organization) in nearby Oakland Park, FL. Marie is a good friend, community organizer and super person whom I worked with at ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) several years ago before funding was withdrawn by many organizations and a lot of legal red tape was unraveling around the group during and after the Obama Presidential campaign for 2008. The weather was a bit cloudy Saturday and just as the festivities were about to begin at 2:30pm, it started raining. So, being fast on our feet, and grateful for a facility to utilize indoors, (since we had a tent set up outside and lots of chairs, tables and decorations) we moved the large crowd of approximately 100 people inside.

As Ms. Patterson of the Urban League of Broward County introduced herself and discussed the new ULBC facility on Sistrunk Blvd. in the new Downtown District of the FTL, I prepared for my presentation. The Urban League does great work here in Broward County, and, if anyone remembers, was responsible for me getting my start in White Plains, NY not only with employment as a teen, but the contacts to attend St. Paul’s School back in 1969 in lieu of going to White Plains High School. My presentation was “from the heart” as I tried to hammer home the need to “Stop the Violence” in school, the urgency of taking advantage of a FREE education while young and the concept of embracing diversity. The kids, including myself, the parents and the executive board of H.E.R.O. were there to participate in the festivities. We had a ball with my interactive style of motivational speaking.

Shortly after I finished, the rain stopped and we were fortunate enough to have the office, which was flooded with people, emptied and the activity was moved outside. Food was served to everyone and there was a tremendous crowd which had swelled to probably two hundred people! There were not enough book bags and supplies to go around, since many parents had more than one child. Yet, I believe it was a worthwhile event by a wonderful community organization and an important message.

So, as some of you may be preparing for back to school shopping and excitement while the rest of us may be getting ready for traffic to swell starting Monday here in SoFlo, may we encourage the kids to take advantage of the “best things in life” that are free – public education, parents and Our Creator!


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
ps. – If anyone has knowledge or access here in FTL for additional book bags, please let me know as I have two low income single mothers with 4 children who contacted me because they did not get book bags. I will connect you with them, if necessary!

“Pomp and Circumstance” and “Plain Old Fun”!

Happy Monday, People!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well, because it is Monday, the first day of another new week here on the planet Earth. Anybody know what’s going on on Mars?! (Still silly sometimes, ain’t I!) Whatever you did, I hope you each had a chance to look at the final events of the 2012 Olympics there in London, perhaps watch the highlights of the events, and certainly take in the televised festivities of the “Closing Ceremony”. It is stuff like that that makes me be glad that I am a citizen of the Universe, residing here on the planet Earth … for real this time! I enjoyed watching the USA Men’s Basketball Team put the brakes on Spain’s very competitive and competent Olympic team that consisted of 6 or more players from NBA teams here in the States, too! Yet, the boys in “The Red, White, and Blue” pulled it off in stellar style. Thank you team USA … in general. I remember when I was just a kid and watched the Olympic Games for the first time in amazement, awe and wonder! How cool that must be to practice and train to reach peak performances. Then, be eligible to compete amongst the best in the world in the events that one has trained for!

I had a variety of emotions as I watched world records being broken, saw the disappointment on the faces of those who didn’t win a medal at all. In particular, I enjoyed the comradery of the teams as individuals performed their tasks, excelled, and in many cases, succeeded at winning a medal for their country. I believe it was 19 year old Kirani James of Grenada who ran the 400 meter run and won the country’s first medal in Olympic history during these 2012 Games in London, and, it was gold! History was made in so many ways by so many individuals and I was glad to have witnessed it, if only on television.

Now, the Closing Ceremony took jumps all around the musical spectrum, including “The Spice Girls” who haven’t had a reunion in some years now. Even the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was caught busting some moves of his own on his feet at his seat during their spectacular performance. So many artist of British origin performed, both the new and the older ones, and there were several candid shots of Olympians like Missy Franklin enjoying these festivities in style – with the Team USA Official Olympic gear still on and busting moves of her own! How fantastic that must be to be so young and so gifted, and, to have a chance to compete in World Olympic Games at the tender ages of 15 and 16 years!

I think the world needed some unification activities in the form of healthy competition to challenge all of the international drama going on in the form of wars and unrest still plaguing our planet. Well, here’s to hoping your week can start out with a bit of pomp and circumstance and perhaps turn it in to plain old fashioned fun, like the Olympians enjoyed during the closing ceremony.


John I. Cook, Director

“…. The Other One ….”

Happy Friday, All!

And may I be ever so humble to T.G.I.F.!

Thankful and thoughtful, one might say, for another day along this journey called “life”. Before I go further, just an update regarding the shooter at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. At first, sources indicated that he was killed by the police officer who responded to the onslaught of nearly 10 shots fired by Page upon his fellow officer. Then, sources indicated that after further investigation, it appears that Page killed himself with his own weapon – a death wish personalized, perhaps. Peace to the families of the deceased and the survivors of this hideous unprovoked attack.

On Wednesday night at yoga class with an instructor who I enjoy classes with, we were asked, as is routine for her (the instructor), to dedicate our practice to something or someone. I found this to be a nice suggestion to assist each of us in staying focused when we reached points of challenge like falling out of a pose due to discomfort. The instructor would suggest that we remember what our practice was dedicated to in those moments when we wanted to give up. I chose to dedicate my practice to my mother.

Once I got home, a friend had posted something on Facebook regarding sufferers and survivors of cancer and asked that supporters repost her message if someone close to them was struggling with or had passed away due to cancer. So, I thought of my father, Isaac Henry Cook, who died 23 years ago from bone marrow and prostate cancer. He was a heavy smoker of pipes and cigars but lived to be 80 years of age. So, I reposted in memory of him, partially for feeling guilty that I seldom mention him in my writings though his words of wisdom are like vertebrae in my spine. Then I got to thinking how cool it was that Olympians like Aly Raisman’s father was there to support (and probably add pressure, too!) her as she continued performing through out the Olympic Games. There were other mentions of husbands and fathers of participants throughout the games and it prompted me to construct this writing about ” … the other one …” – the fathers in this world. Now I know it isn’t father’s day or anything, though it passed two months ago, and my hat goes off to Mrs. Phelps, Michael Phelps’s mother, as she agonized, performed and celebrated with her son who was clearly one of the highlights of these 2012 London Olympics.

So, just in case you were like I was, and have been from time to time, remember ” … the other one …” who may have played a major part in our development and definitely an integral part in our conception! Hat’s off to Olympic dads and husbands and male coaches everywhere from every country in the world. Mothers will always “ROCK”!


John I. Cook, Director

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