Happy Friday, All!

Let’s go for it! T.G.I.F.!

How has your week been? You know it is the last one in September 2012, right?! Some of us may say, “Yeah, so … who cares!?” I do, because I got to spend another week of life with you guys and gals! I am sure it may sound kind of corny but I really do appreciate you all! It has taken me some time to build this e-mail family. Some of you may remember how we met, where we were and maybe even what was going on in our individual lives at that time. I have some fond memories connected with each of you and I still thank you for being a part of this e-mail family! As they say in Cali, Colombia: “Un abrazo!” (A hug!)

The topic of friendship is one that has been intriguing to human civilizations from the beginning of recorded history. It has been defined by Webster and redefined by every generation. Its meaning changes from culture to culture and often times is characterized a bit differently by each ethnic group. What is a friend? We could have this discussion through eternity and still never agree exactly on what it is.

Here in South Florida, in fact, just around the corner from where I live, there was a motorcycle cop from the Broward Sheriff’s Office who was killed a few days ago when a woman driving a Mercedes Benz was “high tailing” it through an intersection. It was not stated that she ran a red light but she hit the motorcycle officer as he was heading West on McNab Road, which is half a block from where I live, and she was heading North on Andrews Ave., which is where the gym is that I attend just a short distance from here as well. His motorcycle was literally “trashed” by the impact and he was in critical condition. Other BSO motorcycle officers traveled with the ambulance to the hospital, stayed and prayed for his recovery with his family members. He died soon after. A motorcade of motorcycles was immediately organized as BSO prepared to mourn his expiration. Friends, maybe?

Just a few days ago, I visited the doctor since the company I work for got insurance and other “bells and whistles” for many of their employees including me. So, I saddled up, had two strips of bacon and an egg with coffee Wednesday morning and went to the doctor. He gave me a “complete checkup” and referred me for blood work and an MRI for my left shoulder which I mildly injured several years ago lifting weights and sleeping on one shoulder. He also told me that my blood pressure was a bit high, not enough to worry, but he prescribed some blood pressure medicine in the event that on my next visit, it was still a bit high. I posted something about it on Facebook and many many people replied with suggestions for lowering it based on their own experiences. I am not a big medicine person and most people offered dietary changes. When I thought about the potato chips I ate almost everyday, since they taste so good, even the two strips of bacon I had eaten that same morning, and read some of my Facebook friend’s suggestions, I realized that it was more a dietary thing for me that I could change easily. Were these people friends?!

Do you have any examples of friendship? Please keep in mind, if you or anybody you know may want to follow and contribute to Educational Excellence’s blog, you can hyperlink on the webpage just below my name here, as I also post these e-mails on Word Press. You may feel free to add your thoughts and opinions about the topics I introduce as well as my take on them. I write from the heart, as my friends have learned, and in addition to being a marketing tool for the business, it also helps keep my writing skills sharpened as I pursue some of my other projects. (These posts also go out to an e-mail family so if you are reading on Facebook, pardon the references to them!  However, they are very special friends!)

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend, friends!


John I. Cook, Director

Generation Lost?!

Happy Hump Day, All …

Well, I didn’t use the usual exclamation point after “… All” this time because I am feeling lots of sympathy for the family and fellow students and friends of the young man who just graduated top of his class from a prep school in Miami, FL and had entered The University of Florida in Gainesville. Apparently, this young man got into a disagreement with a “friend” from the same high school who also was attending The University of Florida with him. The main suspect, Pedro Bravo, says he beat Christian Aguilar and left him in the woods and initially stated he was badly hurt. Bravo was at first giving information regarding the event since Aguilar has not been found for five days now. Bravo can no longer answer questions regarding Aguilar’s disappearance because he has hired an attorney.

Now, I am not sure but I’m thinking there has got to be more to life after high school than this type of drama! What are the young people thinking?! Are they so disillusioned or caught up in daily trivia that they can not see their futures clearly anymore?! It has also been suggested that this “generation lost” is, in fact, suffering from the question of jobs, opportunities as well as leadership in our country today. College costs are soaring, options are limited while “positive” role models and hope are dwindling. Could these things be the source of their discontent and the reasons they display such erratic behavior? Thank God I have some college friends whose kids are off to college, some of them have completed college, doing well academically and with athletics … so I know it is possible.

Just this morning in Lauderhill, FL which is not unlike most cities in the USA, there was a home invasion which resulted in multiple shooting deaths, motives and suspects are still unclear. Are there any easy answers to this unrest? Do you have a clue? Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed … and simply seek to maintain a personal peace and love for myself and others, when possible, and continue to reach out to today’s youth in hopes of touching a heart and sparking hope in their lives.

Have a great day, wishing the search party well in Gainesville … if you will, and keep hope alive!


John I. Cook, Director

Let Your Light Shine

Happy Monday, All!

Most weekends for me nowadays are good … so to speak … as long as I live to talk about it on Monday! I remember when I was younger and all the hooping and hollering and partying (dancing) as well as all the places I had to say I had been to over the weekend. Now, I still like to enjoy myself and go places and do things, dance and hang out. Yet, I cherish each moment more and more as I seek to feel good about myself and the world we live in. I try to be around people that know me and respect me (they don’t have to agree with me!) and share similar values as I do. So I had a good weekend! How about you?

These past few months have nearly flown by. Life appears to continue to have its ups and downs. Last night, I watched “60 Minutes” and saw the President speak about his campaign and the world affairs, both here and abroad. I listened to Gov. Romney agree with the interviewer from the show that “Washington is broken!” How comfortable is it living in a country where people are discussing the fact that our nation’s capitol is broken? This is one of the main reasons I seek to transcend all of the confusion and conflict that people seem to enjoy generating on many many levels and arenas that us humans frequent. Do you think this country is the only one that appears “broken”? How does it make you feel? Can a president “fix” it?

Most of the time, people … us humans … live each day and ignore whatever seems to bother us or is not relevant to our “getting what we want” out of life. Now, I don’t seek to escape these things but I keep that “getting what I want” thing in check. I see the same injustices and unfairness, inequality and conflict, confusion and fighting all around, too. I just choose NOT to get involved in it and seek to throw a positive spin on whatever I can, seeing as there is enough negativity going around and many humans seeking to spread more. I find my comfort in prayer and meditation, yoga and writing, and just being kind to my fellow humans. Of course, there are those moments when I have to just get people and ideas, pressures and annoyances “up off of me”, so to speak, in the most humble and tactful way I know how so as not to add to the conflict and confusion, which there is also enough of now, too!

I simply seek to let my light shine … How about you? Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director

…. Liberty and Justice ….

Happy Friday, All!

As often as I can, I like to T.G.I.F.! That’s right … I am at it again!

Another week has come to a close. Fall is officially setting in this weekend and it is getting dark earlier outside and temperatures are beginning to drop as summer screeches to a halt. I would like to thank those of you who read these e-mails and stories from EE and me, as well as thank those of you who take time to respond. I realize that we may not always agree, which is normal, yet I do encourage each of you to reply or respond whenever you wish. I am not one to “shoot from the hip” so to speak, and I usually choose my words carefully nowadays. And that is not just for you, of course, it is for me! I do reiterate time and time again, that if you’d like to be removed from the e-mailing list, just let me know. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and, if you like, pass EE and me on! Thanks!

Here in Florida, we have had both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney campaigning hard. With the secretly recorded tape of Romney’s comments at a fund raiser in Boca Raton, FL appearing, more energy has been placed in both party’s strategies as they seek to win over as many Hispanic voters as possible. There is more activity in the Brewer kid’s case where four or five teens have been charged with lighting him on fire and egging each other on, so to speak. We are approaching the third anniversary of this incident in October and Brewer’s mother just wants to get it over with already so she, her son, and their family can begin to heal “spiritually” and not come back to court to entertain another “twist or turn” in the events that has scarred this young man’s life forever.

As well, there has been some new developments in the Trayvon Martin case with DNA evidence being presented indicating that Zimmerman indeed had the 9mm pistol in his hand, and, contrary to Zimmerman’s accusation that he shot Trayvon because they struggled over the gun, which suggests self defense in the shaky “stand your ground” law defense he is using, none of Trayvon’s DNA was found on the pistol AT ALL! Believe it or not.

I am living in a country that was built on various “natural rights”, and among them were ” … liberty and justice …”, which are probably one of the hardest ingredients to provide in the history of human civilizations. I think back sometimes to the days when I taught “World History” and we talked about “Hammurabi’s Codes of Law” and what some of the consequences must have been when someone was found guilty … and perhaps, were innocent … with the “eye for an eye” approach of many of those codes. We experience the same kind of questioning of the legal system to this day as a result of the legal system used today in the USA as well as in other countries. Imagine having your hand cut off when you actually didn’t steal anything?! No reversal of that, right?! Enough said.

So in closing, I would simply like to wish each of you and your loved ones a wonderful weekend … ” … with liberty and justice for ALL!”


John I. Cook, Director

Stick To Your Guns!

Happy Hump Day, All!

We are at the mid-point of another week! Have any of you had any challenges lately? How did you handle them? Did you change direction and go with the flow, or did you … “stick to your guns”?

Life is a constant process of experiences and living through them. Of course, some of us may want to do more than just that. Some of us may want to maximize our potential and feel productive while living this gift of “life”. Others may just want to “get by” while there may be still some who actually want to “make a difference”. Are you a follower or a leader? Do you have to choose one? In looking at this topic, I think back to the “sermon” I heard this past Sunday where the topic was “God’s Gifts”. Have you found yours?

My father was very old school, he didn’t have much formal education and dropped out of school somewhere around 9th grade. They lived on a farm, he and his two brothers, his mom and dad, here in Florida near Miccosukee. His mom, Mattie, was a “half breed” and his dad of African stock. I met them all except Grandpa Robert Cook. My father – “Big Ike” – met my mother – Marietta Dolores – when he ventured North in Florida near Ybor City, and, he told me he actually fought to get her! He threatened other guys in her neighborhood while he fought demons of his own – womanizing and alcohol. He proved himself to Grandma Sally by chopping wood, keeping things tidy around their country home … and then going home! Grandma Sally wasn’t having any of that hanging around all night stuff at her place. I never met nor heard much about my mother’s father, Jerry.

My father had dreams of living in New York and so did his brother David. So, they got their girls, married them first, one of my uncles on my mother’s side worked on the Amtrak train – The Eastern Seaboard Line – as a porter, got them tickets (paid for!) and they traveled to Harlem, NY. Once in Harlem, they all did odd jobs and all four lived in one room in a “rooming house” there in Harlem. My uncle David liked money and my father liked work. My uncle somehow got involved with a church and real estate while my mother and father moved North of Harlem into White Plains and worked as a team – my mother was a maid and my father was a chauffeur/butler for the well to do in Westchester County, NY. They together worked for different clients until my father finally met some African American men in the White Plains area who ran a garage. He worked there for several years, got a gun license, and soon procured a job with Pinkerton Detective Agency as an armed guard. I was the last of four kids at that time. The rest of the story is in my first book, From The Projects to Princeton.

So, this anecdote is in part a tribute to him for all he did … especially sticking to his guns … and to any of you who might need a real life story like this to help you stick to yours!


John I. Cook, Director

Occupy Wall Street Anniversary

Happy Monday, All!

Yes, of course, I am hoping that your weekends went well. Nowadays, with so much information being shared, one may wonder what “doing well” means anymore. Peace be still …

Well, the weekend for me was greatly needed – I enjoyed celebrating birthdays with two friends, one had a party at my favorite night spot in Fort Lauderdale that was off the chain. Everybody had fun and nobody got hurt! We all did well. Saturday was kind of a blur though not for reasons that one might think. In other words, I ran errands, did some light shopping, reorganized my work area here at my flat and had somewhat of a quiet evening. I like Sundays more and more because I often promise myself to “enjoy the place where I pay rent”! This past Sunday was rainy in the morning so it caused me to stream the service at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, FL which is just down the street from where I live. Sunday afternoon and evening was spent watching football, eating, watching more football and eating some more!

The topic that Pastor Bob has been working on for the past few weeks is “God’s Gifts”. Now, to look at this subject without bias, some of us may have to sit down. What I like about this series he has been putting together is that he highlights the fact that we ALL have gifts bestowed upon us by our Creator, the DNA and genetics from both parents, as well as those gifts that may have been custom built by our experiences and developmental period’s environment. Have I covered all bases? Probably not … but let me know what you think I missed! So yesterday’s service’s message was focusing on discernment in regards to utilizing ones gifts for the betterment of humanity … and ones self! He used the example of someone who wanted to be involved in the church’s missions field. Were they interested in missions so that they could travel around to different places on the church’s budget? Would they complain about the housing and food? Or would they participate and aid in developing others interests in serving God? Are we each truly in our chosen profession and seeking to aid in the betterment of our world as we know it today? It is the kind of thing that makes you go ” … hmmmm ….”.

The theme of the service was so cool as it linked into the title of the e-mail today although I don’t plan to go into any details … just plant the seed so that we don’t forget who the “99%” are and what the “Occupy” movement stands for and represents. I grew up in a family with a mother who was always involved in community affairs. My dad, on the other hand, was a much more private citizen type. I think back to my days working for ACORN as a community organizer and foreclosure specialist training in Nashville, TN; establishing an ACORN group in a neighborhood in Orlando, FL; and then working with foreclosure clients here in Broward until the organization was forced to shut its doors for good! So, my heart is still open to and close to the message of the “Occupy” movements worldwide though I do believe it represents the core of an economic “sore”, so to speak, that has been plaguing our country and our world for some time now!

Today is the first anniversary of the movement so, while it may have lost momentum, it has not lost its relevance to the country and world we live in!


John I. Cook, Director

The Human Condition

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, T.G.I.F.! While I feel relatively “really good” about life, I have some sad feelings in the corner of my being. Of course, the whole world is watching the USA and our Commander in Chief, Pres. Barack Obama and this nation’s response to the mayhem, hatred and confusion from Libya to Cairo and some of the other “hot spots” in the powder keg Middle East. The sadness is there because, as our nation sought to somberly acknowledge, not celebrate, and commemorate those who lost their lives in the horrendous “9/11 Attacks”, there were elements of the Muslim world who decided that this was a day to attack the US Embassy in Libya and kill innocent people … AGAIN … who were actually working hard to help THEM! Believe it … or NOT!

I was baffled by this, and then, to hear that the attack in Libya was spurned as a cry of outrage for a “sidewalk made” film about the prophet Muhammad of Islam that depicted the prophet as a madman. So, I am still in shock about the lack of clarity of this equation. How does one “cause” the other? I mean, are people really expecting Pres. Obama, who didn’t make the film nor authorize it, to understand that this is the reason for killing three Americans in Libya? I also wonder if “they”, this group of purported Muslim activists, think that Pres. Obama should get on television or make an announcement apologizing for the “F-rated” movie producer’s images of the Prophet Muhammad. When I saw them yelling, with jackets and ties on, on the news last night, I wondered if this is what the “human condition” has actually fallen to in these days and times?

In researching the title for this piece, short as it may be, I came across a photo used for a “vimeo” production by Chet Fowler of Ministry Village that addresses the concept of the human condition and decided to borrow the cover photo to place on my Word Press blog/website, which you can also visit by clicking on the link below my name and the organization’s name – Educational Excellence, to see previous writings, etcetera.

Yet, I close this communication in my traditional way, wishing you all … all the best!

In Peace and Love,

John I. Cook, Director

Core Values

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

It is the day after the eleventh year of one of the most horrific events on the soil of the United States of America, as we know it. It is amazing to think back as we should every year, perhaps even more often than just the date “9/11” to remember that we are ALL Americans, including our President Barack Obama. It was nice to hear that he and Romney had taken all negative and inflammatory commercials off of the airwaves to demonstrate and acknowledge that there should be no divisions in commemoration of this day.

One of my favorite little stories on the personal side was that I had actually gone to my 25th anniversary at Princeton University with my ex-wife, Simona, in June of that same year. She is from Romania and had never seen some of the sights of NYC, including The Twin Towers, the Empire State Building and places where I had grown up in Westchester. So we did as much as we could, which included seeing The Towers just months before the attack. I have a photo, which I may have mentioned previously, taken from the ground level in NYC of the Towers, which, when it was taken, had a cross on the top of a church placed oh so ominously between The Towers. It was taken by Michael Joseph, and, I keep it there in the restroom on the wall as a daily reminder for me of several of my core values.

As we move forward, no pun intended, in the upcoming election, may we not lose sight that we are ALL Americans, regardless of our differences, and behave that way before, during and after the election.

Have a great day!


John I. Cook, Director

Seasonal Changes

Happy Monday, All!

First of all, I want to apologize for the misspelling of the word “work” in my Friday e-mail entitled, “Work Together”. A few of you had fun with me and wrote me back asking me what is “worlk”! So, I didn’t tell anybody this but when I was editing the e-mail, as happens from time to time with my laptop, my finger tip (still don’t know which one) put the cursor in my subject area and although I re-read the body several times looking for errors, I didn’t look in the subject area! Secondly, I want to simply state that I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was pretty quiet though I did venture out a few times downtown and to “the Strip” of Ft. Lauderdale’s Beach area.

I also stopped over to hang out with my long time friend Peter Zachary at his home in Plantation, FL. There were a few of us around the house on Saturday but I didn’t stay too long, so I went back Sunday just to say hi. Another friend was supposed to come to the FTL since she lives in the Miami area to chat about book writing and outlines, and a surprise topic came up regarding a network marketing idea using a cell phone as the core of the business. Thanks for stopping by, Sherry, with such an interesting idea!

If you are like most people, it should be an interesting yet annual change to football season, USA style. Now there is also the “futbol” of spanish speaking and European countries which refers to soccer so I clarify with American football. How did your favorite team do? Was the house or apartment all crazy? Is anybody tailgating at the college games yet? Such an exciting time of the year that comes with the seasonal change of summer to fall. Here in the tropics, we are facing the peak of hurricane season while in points North of here, the season marks its change with the changing colors of the leaves on the trees as they prepare for the winter chill. I’ve got so much catching up on projects and loose ends that I sometimes disappear on the weekends and reorganize things both mentally, spiritually and physically. This was one such weekend that passed.

Of course, I would like to close with a warm American memory of those we lost several years ago after “9/11” and hope that the loss of loved ones has begun to heal in the hearts of so many of us, both American and from the international population, especially those who lost loved ones in one of the three places where the attacks were staged. May we never forget the horror of that morning and always be on the look out for suspicious acting people, and, for an opportunity to step up and help our fellow human in the face of danger, harm or an attack.


John I. Cook, Director

Work Together

Happy Friday, All!

And it’ll take just a minute to T.G.I.F.!

Have you ever played a team sport before? It is a bit different than individual competition like in the track and field races or events where one person seeks to complete their best individual performance. I have done both. Yet, there is something special about a team sport or activity much like in business where a team is assigned a project or in the military where many many people are required to execute individual assignments to meet a common goal.

Families are much the same, especially when both parents are present in the “home”. When I was growing up and still a kid, my father used to give us each a Saturday morning assignment or chore in cleaning the apartment that we lived in in The Projects. The assignment, like scrubbing the bathtub and doing the walls and mirrors as well as the toilet, had to be completed in the morning and BEFORE any fun was had. We, the children, could not go outside or talk on the phone or sometimes, could not even watch television until the chores were completed. Amongst the four kids chores, one was emptying the trash, which had to be done nearly every night before going to bed, and often included washing out the trash pail so there were no smells, spills or growths in there! If “Ike”, my Dad, was feeling ambitious, we occasionally had to wash the walls in the bedrooms and the hallway connecting the back of the apartment to the front door. He often reminded us that “Home Is Where The Heart Is”! We didn’t have much but it was always neat and clean, whatever we had!

In thinking back to my days in elementary school in White Plains, Rochambeau to be exact, it was a sad day when Pres. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was murdered. I was in an individual instruction class with Mr. LeBlanc, the band and orchestra director, learning my craft of playing the trombone. I was in fourth grade. Of course, at that time, I had viewed the president as someone in a position of power that perhaps only God and religious leaders were the only ones more important than “him”. So, why would someone “assassinate” the president, I thought? To me, it seemed like something as disrespectful as wanting to kill my own father! Peace be still …

So, in the aftermath of both political parties’ conventions, one of which I embrace much more than the other, I can only hope and pray … yes, and VOTE … that whoever wins, that “We the people …” learn to work together to better our families and homes, our neighborhoods and states, our economy and country, and … the world. It is a tall order but somebody’s got to do it. Perhaps we can get in the practice of working together in our homes and on our jobs, if we are fortunate enough to have one, and bring it right on up through to the two political parties and work together for human good.


John I. Cook, Director

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