An Alternative to Gloom and Doom …

Happy Friday, Y’all!

You bet!  I’m serious about this “happy” stuff!  We never know how much more time the Earth has to live at the rate things are going so … TGIF with me!!  Cool!!

It’s pretty clear that the whole world is out of control.  Some of us care, others don’t even want to hear it, and still other humans could care less as long as that carrot is dangling in front of their noses!!  Now, while I don’t blame those who don’t want to know about the bad things, the bad is starting to overtake the “good” things.  But what would you rather have happen … arrive in your home country in the middle of Civil War II?  Maybe arrive at your friend’s home in say the Czech Republic to find out that some authoritarian “ruler” is going to drop bombs on the tourist locations in a particular city there??  You STILL don’t want to know?!?  I know … I’ve said it once so I’ll say it again … “Ignorance is bliss …”.  As for me, I ALWAYS like to be well informed!!

About six years ago, I set out looking for a place to retire.  Sometimes I thought about where I wanted to just die.  But, I soon decided that not only was I too young for that, but that I have an opportunity to enjoy what’s left of “Life on Earth”.  You all didn’t think that this greed thing would last forever, right?  At some point, like now, humans must confront the fact that there is not much more to hoard on the Planet in an effort to “make a profit”.  Over the years, I’ve gotten sick of that as I watched and worked with people who had very few, if any, concrete sustainable values.  Like what, you ask?  Like honesty or truth, hard work, cooperation, and collaboration with our fellow humans coupled with a large dose of optimism is what I’m talking about!!  What about you?!?  Well THIS is what Educational Excellence is all about.  The last word says it best … not mediocrity, but excellence in whatever you do!!

It seems that every human “issue” nowadays has to have a monetary answer!  I mean, this money thing doesn’t grow on trees, as my parents used to reiterate whenever we children behaved too carefree!  My parents KNEW the value of money.  Now me, I’m just cheap!  But … the things I have … last a long time … because I take care of them … just the way they taught us!  It’s sad to see that “so-called” leaders have lost their sense of humanity after they struggle to accumulate this man-made concept called “money”!  Now, all I hear from some crazy news commentators is how much “money” it will take to end “Global Warming” … and how many years  it will take to slow it down!!  Don’t hold your breath on that one!!

Me, personally … I just want to maximize what’s left of my life experiences.  Us humans have created so many ways to destroy ourselves (guns and bombs) and our Planet that we are fighting each other for control of (how foolhardy!) that we are NOT even concerned with what we have DONE to the Planet!  When I observe people communicate sometimes and it’s either that religion or this one causing the problem … or, this color or that other color that is causing the problem, I get exhausted!  In observing all of the greed, lust for power that many humans seek coupled with the ignorance that “we” are destroying our “human home”, I get “uncomfortable”.  This is NOT excellence!  This is not progressive!  It definitely is not optimistic!!  When I find myself around that negative vibration (energy), I MUST remove myself … or seek to change it!  For way too long, I have hung around people who were just darn negative and full of hate!  I have evolved and raised my vibration to find my way away from such destructive behavior and hostilities!  One of my spiritual “friends”, “Jade”, uses a term that eliminates the need for the use of racism in placing the blame on, not to mention a particular religion or socio-economic level human who was born into their station of life – The Dominators!  When I utilize this concept in an analysis of what is taking humanity down this deep hole of nothingness and self-destruction, I can identify “the dominators” and we can observe with our OWN EYES (and feel with our bodies) the horrific effects of not being led by these entities, but actually dominated by them!!  Creatures like this suggest that instead of ending the drilling into the Earth’s surface for oil, that we simply calculate how much “man made money” it will take to clean up the mess and side effects that us humans experience everyday!!  These imbalanced “dominators” could care less about anything else except their “man made” (fake) power.  We ALL need to raise our vibrations to counter this spiritual dearth and negative vibrations being thrust down our throats by these selfish dominators!  Thanks “Jade” for your concept … I hope I didn’t misrepresent it!

If WE want alternatives to the “doom and gloom” syndrome that we “regular” humans have found ourselves in, we must identify and demobilize “the dominators”!  When I observe the current Russian dictator or the Chinese dictator, they look a lot like the last “want to be dictator” who infected his way to the highest office in the States!  He’s trying it again as we speak!!  So, if you have negative repercussions from the confusion of “the dominators”, seek optimism in your interactions with other humans!  Expel those insecurities and join with like-minded humans who actually want to SAVE humanity!  Get rid of those “taught” prejudices and embrace the diversity eminent in the human race!

Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

Celebrate International Women’s Month!!

Happy Friday, Folks!  Yes!  Yes!  It’s International Women’s Month!!  We’ll accept that … even though women have done and continue to do a lot for the World we live in each day!!  So, TGIF for the Women of the World!  Thank you ALL for being!!

Women in general have been getting a “bad rap” in many human civilizations worldwide!!  Just in case you didn’t know, women didn’t even have the right to vote in the USA until 1920!!  Imagine that … having babies, raising families, taking care of their homes and “husbands” … without the RIGHT to vote!!  Is that uncivilized bordering on a form of “human slavery” or what??  I think of my Mother, a very unique woman who not only worked as a “domestic engineer”, but also worked with the local church’s Flower Club and served as president of the PTA (Parent/Teacher’s Association) at my elementary school in White Plains, NY.  She was also a “Girl Scouts of America” troop leader there in The Winbrook Apartments and served as president of the White Plains Student Aid Society!  Oh yeah, she was not only my Mom but Mom to three of my siblings as well as “Big Ike’s” wife!  So, I am kind of biased in terms of my definition of a “woman”.  Most regular women that I’ve met fall short of my Mom.  Ain’t she a woman!!?!

There are so many examples of successful women in our world today even though the definition of “successful” may vary.  When we see people like Vice President Harris, recent US Supreme Court appointees Justice Sonya Sotomayor and Justice  Ketanji Brown Jackson, and even Janet Yellen who is currently serving as the Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury, we can see that these women excelled in their lives!  I mean we had Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in England, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks in the USA … just to name a few more outstanding women!!  To me, nowadays, it seems that women have become more interested in becoming “professional breadwinners”, which is in line with humans’ insatiable desire for “wealth” in the form of money!  Humans have placed capitalistic success as our goal and we have nearly ignored the emotional-spiritual realm and the deficiencies caused by “imbalanced living”.  As a result, so many humans experience “mental illnesses”.  Yet, as I see it, the inclusion of a woman’s point of view may help to balance our world’s approach to leadership!  From where I sit, it looks like the “men” are failing the world as corrupt madmen continue to “take over”, run and perhaps finally ruin our World with greed, power-hungry egotism, and destruction!

In closing, I wanted to congratulate “ESPN en Espanol” for highlighting the accomplishments of women who have taken on important positions as announcers, doctors, and even sports analysts by giving them individual segments to state what their positions mean to them!  There are many others whom I hope will rise to positions of leadership and responsibility!!

Thanks for reading!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank You All for reading!!

Please Don’t Disturb the Peace

Happy Friday, All!

It’s that time again!  It’s TGIF time! So if you have a reason to be grateful, join me!  Thank you very kindly!  Radical even!

We seem to have a world where people have lost their concern for each other, be it a helpless young child or an aging senior citizen, or a “mentally challenged” individual.  To me, and it’s happened to me personally, people don’t care if you are a senior citizen or handling a challenging mental/physical condition!  Once, as I was getting off the bus from Puerto Viejo to San Jose over a year ago when I still had to use my cane, a “Tico” woman who was behind me decided to push me in my back as I reached the last step!!  I was like, “She didn’t just PUSH me, did she?”  I did a quick turnabout with the small hand rope from my cane gathered in my hand, and glared at her!  When she realized that I wasn’t as disabled as she thought, she scurried off in a different direction!  Who pushes a senior gentleman in an attempt to either show power and/or disrespect?!?  Maybe even hurt me!  Someone who wants to disturb MY peace!!

I enjoy writing these pieces in an attempt to elucidate bad patterns of behavior that some people still engage in.  I realize that it puts me “out in the out with the open all open” so I prepare myself for backlashes and pushback both in cyberspace and in person!!  I stand out a bit wherever I go.  I am not going to change how I dress or speak, and I am definitely NOT going to let anyone intimidate me for NO REASON!  And please, please don’t attempt to change my hard-driving outlook on life because that’s how I got “here” in the first place!!  I work hard every day to preserve my peace … and … if you dare to disturb it, be prepared for some pushback from ME!

When I take a glimpse of the world (that’s why I like to know international news), my heart breaks for so many innocent people (ie. Ukraine) who are being abused, misled, tortured, and not given any options except death.  I noticed children, women, and seniors who have been displaced and who haven’t a clue what to do amidst all the bombing and destruction.  The Russian ruler is apparently a “die-hard” LITERALLY who is living out some intense nightmare as he destroys parts of the Planet!  I mean, what kind of animal does that?!?  The same kind that could care less about anyone else!!  Do you know folks like that?!?  They are so unhappy that they actually get joy or entertainment from disturbing the peace and comfort of innocent others because they are at war with themselves and don’t even notice it!  So, if that’s you and you want to disturb my peace, I WILL let you know!!

In remembering my Dad, he always insisted that I “protect myself”.  He reminded me even as a child that there are some people who are not going to like you, give you a break, or respect you.  So be on guard, he said, and be aware of your surroundings at ALL times!!  It’s a tough job but self-preservation is important enough for me that I stay on “the job”.  When I get “home” (wherever that is!), I can relax … pretty much!  I try not to invite “hostile forces” (peace disturbers) into my home.  I also try to keep them out of my personal space as I meander through this world!!  My Dad used to warn me, “Use your common sense when dealing with other people!”  I have a habit of too often giving people the benefit of the doubt!  I have gotten burned and taken advantage of enough to know that “Big Ike” was right.  He never went to a boarding school or an Ivy League university, but he pushed me and loved me every step of the way!  I am his youngest and last direct offspring and he and my Mom wanted only the best for me.  When I got accepted to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, he AND my Mom drove from White Plains, NY to Concord, NH to see their youngest son play varsity football which was part of the “Parent’s Weekend” festivities.  I wasn’t that good at American football and didn’t start games since I played split end or wide receiver.  But once when I looked in the bleachers and saw that my parents had driven through a few states to come to see their youngest son at this boarding school in New Hampshire play football, my heart did a dance!  “Damn!” I thought!  “They must really love me!”  When I graduated from Princeton, they had driven down from White Plains to Princeton to help me pack up and get ready for the next stage in my life.  I moved back home, started substitute teaching at all levels of White Plains Public Schools, and discovered that I wasn’t too bad at this “teaching” task.  I remember wanting to be a news announcer or radio disc jockey and I had applied for jobs at ABC, NBC, and even a radio station in New York City called “WBLS”!  I got turned down everywhere and began to realize that “it’s not what you know and where you went to school”, but it was more important WHO you know sometimes.  After almost two years of successful substitute teaching, I was offered a full-time job teaching social studies at White Plains High School!  I taught advanced levels as well as the “lower level” students as I tweaked my teaching techniques.  I learned that teaching is really a gift, an art even.  I also learned that I was “gifted and talented” as they had told me when I first got the scholarship to study at St. Paul’s School.

These accomplishments are VERY important for me even if someone doesn’t “like” or respect the boarding school to Ivy League university pipeline.  It was clearly better than the “public school to jail pipeline” that is prevalent in lower-income and minority communities.  I had found my “peace” in academics even though I wasn’t that smart.  I was organized and determined … and peaceful.  I wanted to make my parents proud as well as to be proud of MYSELF!!  Whoever heard of such a thing!!

Back about a year ago when I was preparing for my grandson’s trip with me from Florida to Costa Rica, I had started to work out with a passion.  I had experienced a few incidents when some “person” felt that they could intimidate or even abuse me because I needed my cane to walk!  “Hmmmm …” I thought!  “I’d better get back in shape so I can protect myself and my PEACE more effectively … just in case.”  I still continue my quiet, private, workout sessions as I seek to fortify what’s left of this maturing body!!  If this is what it takes to protect my peace, I will probably be engaged in it until I expire!!

In closing, try to protect your peace … move away, if necessary!  But don’t let NOBODY disturb your peace!!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

“Thank You for Lettin’ Me Be Myself … Again!”

Happy Friday, All!  And if you’ll quickly review the title of this piece, you’ll see I’m still carrying that “attitude of gratitude” and trying to make it contagious!!  So, here’s a hearty TGIF from the Caribbean … Costa Rica … right close to Puerto Viejo!  I’ve even gotten used to riding my e-bike through town and further out and back amidst the ever-present “roads under repair”!!  If you stay, you gotta love it … or at least get used to it!!  (Wednesday, I rode my e-bike to Bri Bri and back … picked up a much-needed blender, and even got some chontaduros!)

So, I just wanted to be sure to illustrate that I do appreciate a lot of folks even though it seems like I “complain” a lot.  It’s not complaining for me, not only as a social scientist and activist, but it’s “motivational writing” … often referred to as journalism.  I want to elicit a response … an intellectual one that may lead to learning, growth, and even healing!  We’ve been conditioned to some degree to protect ourselves by hurting others … BEFORE they hurt “you”!  Not a healthy state of mind for individuals …  Here in Puerto Viejo where I have a long-term mailbox, do my business and shopping, and rent a small “casita”, I’ve managed to make a little “home” for myself!  As I cruise around taking care of my business and health needs, I encounter different local people of which there is a wide variety!  Naturally, some like me, and some don’t seem to though I haven’t intentionally tried to provoke anyone other than being “myself”.  But, I do request AND show respect in my interactions with others!  Still, and that’s cool, some people like the way I “roll” and actually tell me to keep writing and trying to offer alternatives to negativity while still others don’t like my style … for one reason or another!  I don’t have ANY time to worry about that!  So, back to that “Thank You!” to those who unbegrudgingly “let me be myself”!

I have to give my parents recognition for molding me in a way that taught me not only self-respect but respect for others.  Transparency in relationships is so underrated that I can hardly believe my eyes and ears sometimes.  Now, as I’ve mentioned before, people come to Talamanca Costa Rica for various reasons.  But most people come to enjoy the emphasis on eco-tourism.  Others come to shake off old demons and maybe even create a new “person”.  As a fairly private person, I avoid the chatter of folks who don’t seem to exercise the same transparency that my parents taught me.  I discovered that as I worked nearly like a slave on some jobs where I wasn’t given room to be creative that they too – corporate monsters – appreciated my transparency.  Not only was I a perfectionist who was at work on time every day, but once I got there, I tried to infect the environment with humility, transparency, hard work, and honesty!  It’s the way I roll because I really can’t do the negativity thing much anymore.  It’s a waste of my precious time.

If you’ve been with me and Educational Excellence for a while, I hold no “punches” so to speak.  In other words, I’m not here to “do YOUR dance” because I’ve got my own that has been working well for over fifty years!  I write about and offer constructive feedback when possible to anyone and everyone.  This is a state of mind that follows transparency …  You don’t have to remember which lie you told to whom!  You just “ROLL”!  It’s a spiritual thing that I had to become accustomed to.  It’s kind of like that “hedge of protection” that is talked about in the Bible.  Needless to say, if your fun and foolishness involve disrespecting ME … you need to go back to YOUR drawing board in order to effectively and transparently communicate with me.  Keep in mind, I don’t require anyone to communicate with me or show me love.  There are enough people starting with my parents who have shown me (and continue to!) much love!!  So, why would I allow some “crackpot” to disrespect me?!?  I’m not that desperate for fake friendship or “love” even if it comes from my ONLY offspring!  Keep that bullsh@t in your circle(s) and away from me!  Some people can’t be trusted and don’t even trust themselves while they are trying to convince YOU to trust them!!  Enter “transparency” to save the day.  This is not only true amongst us “peons” on the micro level but also with these “wanna-be Rambos” disguised as leaders running and ruining the world with their toxicity!!  Now, we have the “Dilbert” cartoonist coupled with Elon Musk who both actually advocate “staying away from blacks …” freakin’ morons!  Just what the United States of America needs today.  Remember, Elon paid over $100 million dollars in a lawsuit filed against him and Tesla after an employee of color sued his grimy a$$ for permitting racist hatred toward “blacks” to be written on the walls and stalls as well as spouted in HIS plant!!  WTF!  Some people just don’t care …

It’s the “money” thing that makes people “think” that they are above the law!  It’s infectious, too!  It’s also very dangerous for “the home of the brave … land of the free” …  Complete … don’t make me say it … okay … malarkey!  What’s my point?  Thank you to those who can see my purpose, and acknowledge my goals which in my opinion are pretty positive ones!  I’m just trying to shine my light on some obscure yet obvious topics!  Being transparent and kind, truthful even, is NOT a weakness.  It is indeed the cement that solidifies good, healthy relationships … on ALL levels!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

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