Go “PINK”!

Happy Monday, All!

Today is Columbus Day and schools and government offices as well as most banks, I believe, are closed. Last week, I had forgotten to mention and acknowledge October as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month” … better late than never … hmmm. I was speaking with a survivor of this disease last week and when I mentioned to her that I didn’t remember this celebration, she simply said, “I did!” It is a disease that hits many many women, and, I remember last year in one of my writings, I mentioned Richard Roundtree, better known as “Shaft” for many of us old schoolers, and the fact that he, too, had breast cancer and is a survivor. Apparently, this condition does not discriminate.

Now, yesterday when I was watching NFL Football games, I did notice all of the “pink” on the players, referees and coaches. There were pink shoes/cleats; head scarves, wrist bands and arm bands; towels; insignias on the jerseys and helmets; even one referee I noticed had a pink whistle and cord! Now THAT’S awareness. The Urban League of Broward County also had a book presentation from three African American women authors last Friday, and, their theme was also in pink. At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino last week, there was also a huge event acknowledging efforts to identity and cure this omnipresent disease. Go PINK!

So many exciting games were televised yesterday and we got to see Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints break a half century record held by Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games with touchdown passes. In addition, I got to see the NY Giants win and to see Victor Cruz dance salsa in the end zone three times after catching touchdown passes. Of course there were other games and big time plays, even the Dolphins won, too! Yet, the story that caught my attention was the one of a son of Mexican immigrants to Detroit, MI, “Rodriguez” as he has come to be called at age 70, whose acoustic guitar and folksy music was better know in the apartheid-ridden South Africa than right here in the USA. His story was presented on “60 Minutes” last night and had me on the verge of tears several times. To know that his music had become the background for the lives of many South Africans who opposed “apartheid” while he worked as a day laborer (been there done that!) in Detroit was impressive. Then, when he was finally “re-discovered” by a film maker who went broke trying to do a movie on him and finally went to producers who embraced his project, “Rodriguez” began a tour here in the USA! How nice it must be to be a part of a story like that, he and his daughters and their humility struck a true chord of humility in my heart.

May we go forth this week, and honor this month’s theme of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” … and be at peace with ourselves and each other!


John I. Cook, Director

Ease On Down The Road!

Happy Friday, All!

T.G.I.F.! … and say it again, as many times as you like … until you feel great! I woke up this morning feeling particularly grateful and well, so … I want to pass it on to anyone who might need a little jump start this morning! I’ve got pretty much all I need, though I’ve got more bills than money to pay them! Yet, I don’t let that stop me from having a smile on my face and keeping that basic simple prayer I love – thank you – in my heart. How are you all today? How has your week been? Aren’t you glad it’s Friday?!

We saw one of three debates here in the USA and worldwide between Gov. Mitt Romney and Pres. Barack Obama. You may remember that I likened it to a big sporting event with people taking sides and some jeering and others cheering for their favorite person. I come from a more theatrical background, so to speak, as I played the Tin Man in our elementary school – Rochambeau, named after the French General Rochambeau who aided the US in the Revolutionary War – when we presented “The Wizard of Oz”. Some years later, I even played the understudy for “Stack” in the old school black play called “Stagga Lee”. So this seemed more like a theatrical production rather than a debate. People, including experts, looked at body language, expressions on people’s faces, even the postures and shapes of the lips, analyzing smirks of disapproval as words were exchanged and the moderator attempted to control the debate between two men who obviously felt “superior” to him!

Yesterday, I left work a bit early to attend a pre-trial hearing, since I decided to represent myself, for that bogus “speeding” ticket I had gotten at the end of August just a half block from home at 3AM in the morning. Some of you may remember it, and, I got feedback from some of you as well. While there were differences of opinion as to what actually happened to ME, I think most of us agreed that these types of tickets serve to make money for the City rather than prevent or punish for any real crime. Now, again, this ain’t my first rodeo, so to speak, so I am well aware of circumstances when I am being harassed or “profiled”, and this was exactly that. When I was called and approached the hearing officer, he looked at the paper work which included my driving record and offered me to make a change of plea to “no contest”, no points and no driving school and court costs of $240, OR stick with my “not guilty” plea which I had submitted last month and await a trial date and bring any witnesses I had. I had had my experiences in the past with law enforcement officials vs. “little ole me”, and, one more mature (older) black woman who was called before me set the stage for my decision when she said, “I don’t have any witnesses and it was just the officers and me, so … no contest is my plea”. She was all calm and stuff, and I admired her demeanor even more. So … she and I just “eased on down the road”, you dig?!

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend. Remember, ” … don’t carry nothing that might be a load, so you can ease on down, ease on down the road!”

John I. Cook, Director

The Great Debate

Happy Hump Day, All!

The middle of the week is here already and the nation is preparing to hear the two parties’ representatives, incumbent Pres. Obama vs. Gov. Romney, lock horns tonight on national television. It is almost like a sporting event and I suspect there will be much attention given to it by the press. This election has brought friends and family members into heated arguments and even conflicts. I, too, have friends who have expressed “hard core” views on who they are supporting and the reasons as well as who they are NOT supporting and those reasons, too.

Normally, and it will stay that way, Educational Excellence does not get too deep into political or religious issues. I almost hate to say it, but, “to each his own” … view, that is. It is only natural that humans be permitted to “say” whatever it is that they believe as long as it does not cross the line into deviant behavior and illegal actions. We live in a world that is plagued with competition even in the most unsuspecting areas including children’s sports right up to political and religious arenas. I try to stay calm and take two steps back, so to speak, from any actions or points of view before making a commitment or taking a stand. I simply like to analyze a situation before diving in “head first”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has released his book, Total Recall, and much of the literary, political, talk show and family circles have a lot to say about it. Many people say he should not have published this book with “too much information”. I guess each of us has skeletons in our closets and some of us may want to keep them there while others would rather expose them.

Years ago at City College here in Fort Lauderdale, I used to teach debating. The students loved the class as they often got to debate on issues that were close to their hearts. Sometimes, students had to support an issue that they didn’t necessarily agree with. I always encouraged them to maintain a cool head and stick to the facts.

No matter which candidate you support and the issues you are in favor of, I hope that you enjoy the “great debate” tonight as there will be more to come!


John I. Cook, Director


Happy Monday, All!

It is also the first day of October 2012. I was driving down Las Olas Blvd. here in Ft. Lauderdale, FL last night and there was an area reserved with gorgeous table settings underneath equally decorative tents with a banner saying “Oktoberfest on Las Olas”. The Las Olas Neighborhood Association really does some fantastic things there but this was my first time seeing this celebration set up there in my more than 15 years living here! Foods and beverages were being served as people sat outside underneath the tents enjoying the night air last evening.

I hope your weekends went well. Mine was particularly peaceful – perhaps the most peace filled “full moon” weekend I’ve had in a while. Yet, I did enjoy myself thoroughly hanging out both Friday and Saturday downtown. The weather was even great on Sunday! I am grateful.

Yesterday, I streamed service from Calvary Chapel and there was a guest speaker, Mr. James Mc Donald. He was intriguing, interesting, funny and … on point! The topic was “miracles” – not like Smokey Robinson and The Miracles – but, those things that people want to happen … just because they need a miracle. Some people may need a miracle but not know what they entail. Mr. Mc Donald spoke about those miracles produced by faith and works. His introduction was interesting because he mentioned that the last time he was at CC, his mother was alive but struggling with ALS. He talked about her passing and her funeral, which he preached. It hit home for me because I spent both Saturday and Sunday with my good friend from White Plains whom I grew up with there – Peter Zachary, Senior Vice President for First Miami Securities – who is suffering from ALS. He hasn’t been in the office in months now because he physically can not do anything on his own …. Peace be still.

Mr. Mc Donald emphasized that miracles flow through what we have, and, that miracles occur when you do something or are active. One must first appreciate what we may have – friends, family, job, health, personal qualities and the like – because it is through those “things” that a miracle will develop. It takes work, often what some people don’t see, like faith and prayer as well as a positive attitude and belief. Miracles don’t just happen with the “wave of a magic wand”, it requires a tremendous amount of work. And, they don’t just happen because we want them to.

So, as you go through this week day by day, count your blessings, stay active and realistic about “life”, learning from the lessons we experience each day along this journey. Perhaps you may be part of someone’s miracle or be the vessel through which a miracle flows.

Peace always,

John I. Cook, Director

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