You Gotta Be Real

Angel on my shoulderHappy Hump Day, All!

How are your weeks progressing? If at all like mine, “one day at a time” might suffice. You may have heard the expression, “you gotta be real” in a variety of ways, be it in an R & B popular classic tune, or, in my case, a fusion smooth jazz group called “3rd Force” from a few years back. Well, we had some IT time at work yesterday and I decided to listen to some music to make the time less weighty, if you know what I mean, and on came this selection named above. It got me to thinkin’ …

After I had heard it was Oprah Winfrey’s birthday, and that Alex Rodriguez – baseball superstar and slugger – had been linked to a “shut down” performance enhancement specialist’s office here in South Florida, not to mention the purported “staged” drive-by of rapper “Ricky Rose” Ross here in the exclusive Las Olas area at 5am, I began to ponder – “What is real anymore?” The linebacker for Notre Dame who is about to go pro in NFL Football has … er uh … had a fictitious girlfriend that he purportedly met on line, as well as the notion that there are “crisis actors” who have appeared in Sandy Hook as well as the “Movie Massacre” out West last year … well I wonder … “What is real anymore?!” What about you?

Here locally, the lady who got shot in the face last week in Miami, but she was actually in front of a Chinese restaurant where she was robbed with her two daughters there, is recovering nicely as the surgeons seek to remove bone fragments from delicate places in her throat so she may resume a normal life. In Miami Gardens yesterday, a woman was arrested for neglect after her son was found wandering the street nearby their home when authorities were called to rescue the 7 or 8 year old from harmful traffic. The older sister said that her “little brother” was probably following her when she left her home with friends, and the little boy escaped unbeknownst to the mother. All of the children are with DCF now. Finally, there was a chef leaving work this past weekend in Miami who was the victim of a “hit and run” drunk driver. He lost his life as a result of the impact he received while crossing an intersection. An onlooking man who saw the whole thing took chase after the young woman who fled in a van. She has been released on bond and the man is being praised by the family of the deceased for stepping up to help capture the driver who took the father and husband from this lovely family.

Are you real? This new “norovirus” which attacks the stomach and has its origins in less than desirable locations seems real. I try to make sure that me and my friends are real … Not much else you can be sure of anymore. Nonetheless, have a great Hump Day and rest of the week.

Peace … really,

John I. Cook, Director

Here We Go Again!

Shining LightHappy Monday, All!

As usual, here’s to hoping your weekends went well. It was a great time for me … even considering all the things that could … and DID … create a challenge for me, though not insurmountable. Happy for the friends and positive people I have in my life today … Love youse.

Friday was the dj’s birthday at Capone’s here in Fort Lauderdale. “Rey Rico”, as we call him, was in stellar form. You know, when something like that happens – a dj’s birthday party at the club where he works – there is a lot of love flowing all around! That’s how we do it! I think that I have known Rey now for about 2 or 3 years … He reminds me of a room mate I had at boarding school with whom I used to joke, study, play sports … yes, and hang out with! It was a great party thanks to B-Love, host extraordinaire and marketing specialist, and new owners Shawn and Greg.

Saturday was another item on the agenda though impromptu. My good friend – Solveig – originally from Norway has a set of twins – Kristin and Jaeger – whose birthday party was celebrated Saturday. Solveig’s friend, a young lady lawyer whom I had met, had to work … so … in comes “Peaceboy” … that’d be me! Since Solveig and I have been friends for like 2 years now, when I met her at a Boys and Girls Club Business Network Mixer, and, I have met her kids before, it was a great “fit”. She hosted the “house party” for the kids in the late afternoon and I joined them a few hours later and had some pizza, Hawaiian punch and a delicious piece of ice cream cake. The plan was to go to Muvico and see “Jack Reacher” starring Tom Cruise. So, off we went around 6:30 pm from her home heading for the theatre to arrive on time and even give the kids – 3 girls and 4 boys – time in the Arcade there at Muvico. I took the boys – two white kids, one mixed kid and one clearly African American kid of around the same age as the 12 year old twins – in my vehicle, and, Solveig took the girls – all three white and dressed like “pre-teens” and oh so cute, singing verses from some song whenever they got the feeling – in her vehicle and we cruised North up Federal Highway until we got to Pompano. It was great fun for the kids especially, though I joined in the fun as well.

Sunday, which was the 68th Anniversary of the Liberation of the “infamous” concentration camp known as “Auschwitz” which demarcated the end of the horrific Holocaust and the mass murder of millions of Jews … peace … be still, was also a day when I helped a good friend – Big Bro – move from the building where my flat is along with his son Drew and a friend of his named Josh. With all of us pitching in, and watching the Heat lose in double overtime to the Boston Celtics with Armond “Doc” Hill next to Coach Rivers, we “got ‘er done”! January 2013 is almost over and we are on the toes of Black History Month 2013. It’s a new year with new opportunities and a chance to have new faith!

Have a great week, ya hear!


John I. Cook, Director

Why Is Everybody Always Pickin’ On Me!?

believeHappy Friday, All!

Here’s to hoping your week has gone fairly well … or have they? I don’t know about any of you but I have had issue on top of issue plus issue for the past seven days! You know, sometimes people want to say and believe things like “It’s karma!”, or maybe “God won’t give you more than you can handle!” … Or how about, “If it don’t kill you, it’ll only make you stronger!” Choose one … any one!

One of the main components of Educational Excellence is spiritual growth. But of course, like many other things we have been inclined to believe, we have to believe in spirituality as well in order for it to work for anyone. One has to believe it exists, and that there is a certain abstract power of peace in being a spiritual being and handling things in a similar manner. This approach to life also involves believing in the “unseen” or in results that don’t seem so tangible or maybe even hard to reach or attain. Believing in what you can see is not a bad thing. But when one is struggling with a situation or an issue that seems insurmountable, it might be better to believe that circumstances will go better than it may seem mainly by being spiritual. At least, that’s the way it has been for me. What about you?

There are some days in my life when I feel like saying, “Why is everybody always pickin’ on me?!”, as the lyrics go in the Bloodhound Gang’s song of yesteryear. Then, there are days when I embraced the “Big Bad John” soundtrack from the Jimmy Dean movie of 1961. Do you think that other people … famous people … like the President or LeBron James ever feel this way? Which attitude or approach do you think one of them might choose? Is it really all in your mind how things turn out for any individual in a given situation? How about the basketball game when Michael Jordan scored 38 points while suffering from flu like symptoms to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in game five of the championship series in 1997? Even he said at the end of the game, “Well, I don’t know how I did it … I just managed to pull it together.”

The victim mode is never a good one anyway though sometimes people use it to take the easy way out and not be held accountable for the outcome of their behavior. Well, it is 2013 and I am still fighting off flu like symptoms. I’ve got to get in the game and win this thing!

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

“Where Wuz You At?!”

e pluribusHappy Hump Day, All!

I am in hopes that your Inauguration Day and MLK Day were festive enough to restore your faith in this country. Now, I know that there are always … ALWAYS … some haters so I can say simply … run for the office of president and see what you can do (yeah right!) or pitch in and try to make stuff better as a citizen. I would suggest that one move/leave the country but that would be way too crass for my style … just sayin’!

There was a group of teenagers from The New Mt. Olive Baptist Church here in Fort Lauderdale, Fl that traveled to DC to be at the Inauguration. They were on the local news here, all African Americans, and they were so impressed by what they saw at the Inauguration … something I have never seen. One young man commented, “I have never been that close (proximity) to any president!” Imagine the pride, joy and motivation that welled in this young man’s heart and veins, even as they each displayed the t-shirts and bobble-head images of President Obama that they brought back as souvenirs of this historical event!

Another person who was “there” is a former boarding school buddy/college chum, Kevin Gover, Director of the Native American Museum there in DC, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian. He posted a picture on a social network of he and his lovely Lady there with the Capitol building looming in the background at the Inauguration. Many of us Princeton alumnae were very proud to see Michelle Obama’s brother standing close to her and sporting his orange tie with the “orange and black” scarf from our Alma mater. Michelle graduated from there, too.

What I enjoyed most was seeing the Obama “ladies” embrace Beyonce’s presence, performance and obvious personal friendship that has developed between Jay-Z, Beyonce and the Obamas. How cool is that! Do you know of any other president who stepped “outside of the box” like he did during his speech?! How about a president who had such a diverse array of performers participate in the inauguration?! Truly, he is one of a kind … peace be still … and may God continue to bless he and his family … and America!

May we support this president for his next term in office here in our country.


John I. Cook, Director

Who Can Get Away?

images[10]Happy Friday, All!

As is customary here at EE and many many other places world-wide, T.G.I.F.! Some weeks seem longer than others, especially when combating flu symptoms. This has been a tough week and a half for me since realizing that something was going on inside – shakes and shivers, cold and hot sweats, body aches in all the joints … and a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Of course, a few days ago, to top it all off, my computer went “nuts” as I had not installed the security system properly and all sorts of “bad guys” got inside of it, too! Thanks to a good friend of hi tech capacity, we got our stuff back together again. Thanks again, Angela!

Did you ever hear about a crime or just “bad behavior” like Charlie Sheen in a hotel in NYC with a briefcase filled with cocaine and then has a fight with some woman who claims he owes her an unheard of amount of money? Yesterday, there was a Brink’s truck heist here in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the bandits got away with so much and did it “so well” that the authorities don’t want to comment on how much. They had two cars, the first getaway car was shot up by the Brinks guy, since the thieves couldn’t get his gun out to disarm him, and, as they fled in the raggedy old car, he shot multiple times flattening a tire and puncturing the vehicle several times. Then, they got into a Lexus after abandoning the junk getaway car and hauled ass! Pictures were plastered on the news last night but no one has been found … yet.

I heard yesterday that Tiger Woods wants to get back with his wife … and pay her $200 million, just to come back! Believe it … or not! How does a “kid” dress up like the “Joker”, go into a Batman movie, shoot the place up and then say, “I’m insane!” and get away with it … more or less! I thought they said “Crime doesn’t pay?!” Arnold Schwartenegger is in a new movie after doing the unthinkable on a Kennedy and with the house keeper … having a kid and all. Charlie’s in another movie, and, for the most part “The Bill Clinton Story” with Monica has not tainted him much anymore as he continues with this “good work” for the United States of America and President Obama. I have done a couple of “not so good” things but not robbed or murdered anyone … and it’s all uphill for me! What are the ingredients that determine “who can get away” with these types of things? Not to worry, friends, I am not going underground here … just throwing out some thoughts to encourage you all … and myself … to embrace our dreams! Thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

” . . . And Then There Were None!”

KingHappy Hump Day, All!

As if anything else could surprise us nowadays?! Another shooting at a business school in downtown St. Louis, MO … I mean, what are we thinking about? If someone has a problem with another person … into their office at work and …. bam!!! Suddenly, the “perp” realizes he made a mistake … so he kills himself … or tries to in the case of the part time student in St. Louis.

Wow! It is like human kind is on the brink of disaster … forever! Helicopter crash in London … unexpected. A young boy – 6 years old – in Miramar, FL was hit with a “Happy Meal” in his hand while crossing the street last weekend. The driver never stopped … In fact, reports indicate that he actually swerved a few times trying to get the youngster OFF of the hood of the car … couldn’t immediately, but, when he finally did, he ran over the tiny body …

Yesterday was the birthday of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was born January 15th, 1929. This was the man who took it all, front and center, bus boycotts, segregated counters in restaurants, water hoses and dogs … not to mention hate-filled racist police in full force. He and Gandhi began a program of non-violent resistance to combat the evils of society. Both men, exemplary in their family’s and social life, left loving imprints on society. Yet, Dr. King faced a death of assassination that was less than dehumanizing for a man who believed that ” … we shall over come some day!”

May we remember the good of human kind so that we do not have to repeat the evil …


John I. Cook, Director

Adjustments Are Required!

praying handsHappy Monday, All!

This weekend could not have come at a better time! Whewww! Thanks to those who wished me well in my flu symptoms’ recovery. Some of you even sent medicinal and natural suggestions for me to consider. Thank you, too. The tiny bone remains of the two year old little boy of the mixed Hallandale Beach couple have been found in the backyard of the home they once rented. Both parents are in jail and charges continue to unfold starting with “child neglect”. How sad that people just make and then just discard a young life like that! May he rest in peace …

Do you remember the days of things you could buy like model cars or airplanes, and even furniture with “Assembly Required” kits? Those days were “something” considering the fact that even once one had all the parts and the glue, etc., adjustments were still required! Isn’t that how life is, too? Moments like these in my life which I had to face unexpectedly have caused me to seek a greater level of spirituality in my personal development. Pastor Gomez of Calvary Chapel, FTL’s sermon yesterday was entitled, “Why is this happening?” As he selected scriptures to address “human kinds” challenges in handling everything, not to mention difficulties in understanding the “why”, the audience was enthralled, laughing at times, and silent other times as he drove his point home. It seems that there are always some adjustments required.

Yesterday, I spent some quality time doing home-maker chores and then went to visit my friend Peter Zachary with ALS. Since chewing had become a major challenge for him, they have learned to blend all foods, from chicken and veggies like broccoli and carrots to fruit shakes, into a soup or liquid so that he can ingest it easier. Andrea, his younger sister is even talking about writing a book about the unique discoveries they have made in caring for Peter, their brother … my friend who is also like a brother to me. He seems to be sleeping better in the wheel chair and fairly stable with no noticeable deterioration at this point. It is always great to see he and his family as they surround him unselfishly with love and personal care.

So, today, keep in mind that we may have to make some serious adjustments in our manner of dealing with ourselves and each other. Self analysis goes a long way in our OWN lives, too! Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director

Changes and Challenges

back to the beginninHappy Friday, All!

Customarily, I’d just like to share … T.G.I.F.! Many of us have started out the New Year with plans and changes while others of us have a different take on how to begin 2013, for example, with more zest and zeal this time. Whatever you choose, I wish you each well!

What I’ve found amongst my close friends, people in general, as well as myself, is that we are once again, as always, faced with “changes and challenges”. There is no magic remedy to solving most problems that I have encountered in my life, and, while it may be “comfy” to stay where we are, who we are with, and all the other things we have gotten used to, I try to look for new ways to handle challenges I face as well as convince myself that change is indeed, necessary. For me, it important not to “buckle” and let circumstances send me into a whirlwind or frenzy, nor plunge into that abyss of self-doubt. I could tell you stories but I prefer you get copies of my books, which you can access by clicking on the link for Educational Excellence and going to publications. Thanks, Angela, for your help with this!

Yes, it is 2013, and the world continues to turn … so far! While I enjoyed the stories of the Mayan calendar prediction for the “End of the World”, I doubt that no human comprehension of any day and age can predict the end of creation or world order or “whatever” better than The Creator can. So, just as a word of encouragement, take it or leave it, go forth today … and each day … as best as you can … to face those changes and challenges … as best as you can. Reach out to others for help when you need it, don’t suffer in silence … and BELIEVE!


John I. Cook, Director

namasteHappy Hump Day, All!

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? I usually don’t get one but I have heard that this flu season is pretty bad. Yesterday at work, a co-worker went home because she was apparently feeling ill. So, on the way home from work, during which I began to feel the body aches and head congestion, I stopped by the pharmacy to check on the flu shot process.

Interestingly enough, while I do have health insurance now, the shot is still $15.00. So, in waking up this morning, I still felt the body aches and head congestion coupled with a dry raspy cough. I decided to take a day off to get this virus under control. How have you and your loved ones been feeling? If anyone in your household is getting “under the weather”, be sure to care from them because something is going around.

Feel well and care for one another!


John I. Cook, Director

“Men In Black . . .”

Happy Monday, All!
Here’s to hoping your weekend’s went well. What did you do? Has the snow cleared up for you, or … maybe the temperatures have dropped a bit? One of the reasons I enjoy living in South Florida is that it never gets too cold! Imagine that! There were actually lots of people at the beach this past weekend on Ft. Lauderdale’s “Strip” along A-1-A.
My Saturday was pretty enjoyable and Sunday was very productive for working on my own website with a consultant that I am getting up and running soon, I plan.After a decent Friday night when I got home from “The Clubhouse” aka Capone’s relatively early, I had a plan for myself on Saturday – to see the movie: “Django: Unchained” starring Jamie Foxx as “Django”; Kerry Washington as “Hildy”, Django’s wife separated from him through the horrors of slave trading by the plantation owner ( a typical practice done by slavers to intentionally separate families of African descent ); and Leonardo DiCaprio as the owner of Django’s wife and plantation known as “Candy Land” passed on to him by his father who built it through slaving. For me, an African American male, the movie’s theme and setting had particular significance – slavery: an evil institution. Now, the paradox here is that in ” … the land of the free and home of the brave …”, there are humans of one color/race (white/ Caucasian) owning humans of another color/race (black/ African). The horror of slavery was that in order for one race to own another race, the owning race had to “dehumanize” the other race through the cruel system employed by southern plantation owners. The sad thing is that those “dehumanizing” techniques have carried over since slavery was abolished and manifest themselves in the continued racist behavior, including senseless killing of black male teens like Trayvon Martin by a self proclaimed vigilante disguised as a “neighborhood watchman”.
So, today’s e-mail, entitled “Men In Black” goes out to all the “black men” in the world and America today who have survived the continued “dehumanization” practices initiated by slavers some 150 plus years ago and updated and modernized by today’s racist. Hopefully, those of you reading this get some understanding of where I am coming from and can behave accordingly. As well, I remain open for intellectual discussions and writings.
John I. CookRed rose, Director

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