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!

Abolitionism and Harriet Tubman; MLK, Jr. And The Civil Rights Movement; Pres. Obama …

It’s Friday again …  How are you holding up??  I mean, it looks shaky worldwide, so see if we can muster up a TGIF!!  Cool, thanks!

Have you noticed how many folks get all wound up over a conversation?  Is it because they might be wrong?  Or are “they” just looking for an argument?  It’s hard to tell sometimes.  Nobody wants to appear fallible or simply wrong.  So, they spin this incredible story that has nothing to do with what the initial topic was.  Now, don’t get me wrong … I lose track of what I’m saying sometimes, too.  But I don’t make up a story trying to defend the indefensible … and then blame “something” … “anything” … on YOU!!  That’s not cool and I prefer not to be around it … or you, if that’s how you converse!

Then, some “toxic” folk a la “Marjorie Taylor Greene” decide that now is the time for “red” states to “separate” themselves from “blue” states!!  Didn’t this person study OR learn anything about the Civil War?!?  And now, people like Ron DeSantis think it’s HIS job to set the curriculum in his state!!!  Can you repeat after me:  “This is authoritarianism in a democratic republic!!”  Now HERE is where the less informed get lost and pulled “down” various rabbit holes while simultaneously advocating “anti-woke” nonsense (dog whistle for anti-POC!) which will guarantee that that folk remains “sleep” or “not woke”!!

If anyone with half a brain and half of a heart can’t see that the States doesn’t need Civil War II … especially while China and Russia are solidifying their relationship … then we definitely have some problems in Congress.  Over the years of #45, we could see the divisions in the attitudes of “my fellow Americans”.  You see, as a social activist I can see and have experienced how the American Dream can become a nightmare for POC (people of color).  Is this a “white” vs. “black” issue … or a “red” vs. “blue” issue?!?!?  Haven’t we “adults” graduated from dividing ourselves first of all … let alone based on two colors?!?  Wait … WHAT?!?  If Rep. Greene knew what Harriet Tubman who conducted the “Underground Railroad” with the help of Quakers (white-skinned people) experienced, she might be able to make an educated guess regarding her position!  But no … she can’t!!  She would rather sow hatred, DISCOMFORT for others, and discontent in this country.  It’s not like we don’t have enough problems in “the stolen land that became populated and controlled by capitalist bullies and racists”!  There are “white” men and women who can see the truth and see through the mirage being fabricated right before our very eyes!!  Can’t you SEE?  Or are you falling back to sleep!?

The Civil Rights Movement quickly developed under the hard work of regular people like Rosa Parks as well as extraordinary people like Martin Luther King, Jr.  And yes, the Black Churches (Baptist, Protestant, AME – African Methodist Episcopal, etc.) paved the way for a place where African Americans could feel safe and organize the foundations of the ever-growing Civil Rights Movement.  Do most Americans know what “civil rights” are?!?  Not if you didn’t recognize, study, or understand why there were so many marches being held by those “woke” people of ALL races … or colors, if that helps one’s understanding of things!!  That’s why the “system” leaders were so alarmed when hundreds of thousands of “woke” people showed up to hear a real leader speak to unite Americans at the Washington Monument!!  It was also a speech that emphasized the need for jobs and Freedom for African American citizens!!  This is why so many republican leaders don’t want “people who are awake” in positions of leadership and definitely not as followers!!

Needless to say, with the momentum created by Dr. King and his philosophy of “non-violent passive resistance” which came into full bloom on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as the “woke” protestors tried to wake up the WORLD to see on international television, some changes occurred in the USA.  The barbarism of the police and the unity of African Americans and others as they sought their civil rights in a country that they helped to build was on full display!!  You see “we” are the American Experiment in Democracy!!  Don’t take things personally and out of context!  And please don’t “use” the “it makes me uncomfortable” to talk about race excuse!  Did you see the discomfort experienced by African Americans since Trayvon Martin was murdered by a self-proclaimed security person?  How about the “discomfort” experienced by George Floyd??  And I could go on and on!!  It’s ridiculous how “Black men and boys” have been gunned down by police in the States … but now “YOU” feel uncomfortable just talking about it!  What do you think an African American citizen feels each time a racial slur, racist joke(s), and gerrymandering takes place in “our” midsts?

After Pres. Barack Obama demonstrated the abilities of an African American man not only to win two consecutive terms in office but to attempt to guard those hard-fought and earned civil rights for African Americans, in came #45 to turn the clocks back in time!  This character talked racist crap from the biggest bully pulpit in the world!!  And believe me, #45 twisted truths, and spouted racist and sexist philosophies (grab ’em by the p***y) in such a disgraceful manner that some people even tried to “blame the victims”!!  Leaders are supposed to lead with dignity and respect in a democratic republic!  How do we get that back?!?  The whole world is watching!!

In closing, I hope that I didn’t offend anyone because I knew you weren’t trying to kill African Americans on that bridge in Alabama, we know it wasn’t you who murdered George Floyd in plain sight and on video.  But we do need all of us to talk about how “we” can make things better together … while we still have a chance.  Thanks for joining me in my attempts to elucidate the importance of learning “Black History”!  It has been and will be a part of American History forever!  Let’s get it right!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

Remember the Children . . .

Happy Friday, Y’all!!  And may I be one of the first to wish you such a thing!!  TGIF, even!!  Thanks for your support here!!

It’s interesting how people interpret things one might say regarding sensitive subjects … like racism!!  It’s like they demonstrate in many “self-help” programs:  “You can’t get over this addiction until you admit you have this PROBLEM!”  Been there, done that … got the T-shirt and buried it!  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again:  “To me, racism is a mental illness!”  You know how in several instances when someone does something crazy like at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or … in Buffalo at that supermarket, it turns out that culprit had “mental issues”?!?  Well, both have been found guilty!  Since the latest incident that occurred at Michigan State University in Lansing, mass shootings continue to be on the rise in “the land of the free, home of the brave”!!  You see, “we” Americans messed up!  I know some of the RICH white men are enjoying the dream they’ve created.  But the rest of us are responsible for getting our interpersonal behaviors in order!!  The rest of “us” are fighting each other based on race, religion, or economic position!  This “democratic capitalism” is in trouble!  Sure, the “system” is working … money is “king” and the rich are getting richer!!  Are YOU?!?  We humans almost hate each other, especially those who get manipulated into thinking that their fellow human being is “out to get them”!!

Some people try to justify the murder of innocent children who were PLAYING inside The 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15th,1963 in Birmingham, Alabama.  It has been confirmed that the bombing was done by “white supremacists”!  (I have one associate who tells me that violence against African Americans will continue as long as I write about it!!  Don’t make me say it!!)  Recently, there has been a rise in “anti-Semitic” hate crimes.  Any excuses for that?!?  It seems that some people have lost regard for being civilized as plans have been uncovered regarding domestic terrorists who want to damage the electrical grids of critical locations tied to the proper functioning of “America”!!  WT@!!  It took forty-something years to even charge the self-proclaimed Klansmen and white supremacists with the crime of bombing that church!  One of the men had died before being charged …  Yet, I guess … I shouldn’t talk about it!!  RIGHT!!  Ignorance is bliss!

Well, once again the States prepares for another weekend!  Let’s see if the number of mass shootings goes up.  Right now in February, the total number of mass shootings is 71 …  Oh. and let’s not forget how many unarmed African American citizens have been killed by police.  Add one more with the killing of an African American man by the Shreveport, LA police a couple of weeks ago!!  After the officer realized that the unarmed man was dying in his arms in front of his face, even he began to scream: “Hey!  Breathe!  Come on man … Breathe!”  I guess this “associate” of mine would blame ME for that, too!  Admit it!!  There IS hard-core racism built into “the American Experiment”!  It was there a long time ago!  Quit making ignorant excuses!

Do you have children?  Maybe you have grandchildren?  Would you like to see them blown to pieces while playing together in church?  Or, don’t you care anymore?!?  Maybe you’d like to see them murdered in school, the university, or just walking in the local mall!

I remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …  My parents had a small painting of him over the collapsible dining room table!  While my parents raised us to believe in non-violence, they reminded me of the FACT that there may be others who want to end MY life … because of the color of my skin!!  How ignorant!!

In closing, remember the children … they haven’t done anything to anybody!!  Give them a fair chance at a decent life, too!  And please don’t corrupt them with hatred, stupidity, and low self-esteem!  “We’re better than that!”


John I. Cook, Director

ps. – Thank you for reading!!

Blaming the Victim (Continued …)

Happy Friday … again … from where I sit!!  And you folks … how’re you holding up?  I’m still grateful … for everything!  So, I’m going to give up a TGIF for us!  Yep!  Done!

First of all, I wanted to mention that I am not trying to harm anyone in any way. There are many things that I’m good at like social science, I am good at making arguments against racism aka I am an anti-racist, a learning facilitator (teacher) for various subjects I have taught, a social activist, and a citizen of the universe.  These whole country boundaries or separations have led to the decay of shared values that formerly united humans.    Yet, I want to state firmly that I don’t take on other people’s spiritual work that they need to do themselves, not ME!  I don’t want to get any “disease” from my interaction with other people.  I mean, sure, I could react and overreact again and again and come up with some nasty words and behavior!  But, that’s NOT one of my goals in my life right now!!  That’s what I mean when I write: “Don’t make me say it!!”  LoL!!  That’s negative energy and such behavior requires a lack of decorum!!  I have learned from experience that this behavior depletes one’s positive approach to life AND drains the “victim’s” positive energy.

Who is the constant “victim” in race-related challenges in the USA?  People of color, women, Asian and Jewish people, and others outside the norm of the status quo.  It was just yesterday that someone sent me a video from the news that showed many Americans (white ones, too) want to retire OUTSIDE of the country!!!  What does that say about the good ole USA?!?  From where I sit, it looks like the so-called leaders in the government have decided to go “Rambo”!  Not just one member … but so many congressional representatives seem to want to be famous for as many minutes as they can while yelling at a “State of the Union” address that the President himself is a “liar”!  Now, this statement comes from a person who has pushed ridiculous conspiracy theories and “says” that #45 won the election … which is clearly a lie!  I don’t know if it is happening in your circle(s) of friends and associates but EVERYBODY wants to LIE!!  With so-called “political leaders” showcasing their ability to fabricate multiple lies and show little to no respect for the polity and positions of authority – like the president, American citizens are more and more confused, especially those with hatred in their hearts!  It’s already been established that there are so-called “survivalists” who have stockpiled not only food but WEAPONS!  Can you even utter “Civil War II”?!?

So rather than stand around engaging in “small talk” about less important things I choose to take those stands … like the aforementioned ones!!  I can’t just sit here and watch the modern “Rome” implode!  As far as I see it, negative energy (attacks on Native Inhabitants and the land) will ultimately produce attacks on “each other”!!  Can you see it yet?  The stuff is getting crazy!  So crazy that some “Americans” don’t want to live in America … once called “the land of the free, home (OMG) of the brave”!  You see, if something starts out as a lie, it will probably finish in an even bigger lie!  #MarjorieTaylorGreene  I know it seems that the status quo or “white men” is/are being attacked!  But please don’t forget who attacked who FIRST!!  No one, especially me, is blaming “white men”.  Yet, the system that was put into place at the beginning of “the American Experiment” was done so by and for “white men”.  Don’t take it personally, PLEASE!  But the universe is demanding changes … or else!  I speculate with my limited science background that Putin’s bombing of Ukraine is aiding the development of things like earthquakes …  Hmppfff!  Don’t be surprised!  So who is going to “lead” humans out of this eternal quagmire?!?  It ain’t going to be easy …  But SOMEBODY has got to do it … or ELSE!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!

Support Black History Month!!

Good day, Happy Friday even!!  So TGIF with me if you’d be so kind!!  Cool!  Thanks!

Before I tackle such a tough topic, I wanted to acknowledge yet another group of fine Men.  Some of them are white, and some went to the same boarding school and/or college as me!  I was in some good company academically, and the organizations were benevolent – they didn’t have to do what they did.  This first guy I call “G”.  “G’s” name is Gary and he’s an attorney. He’s a white gent … He’s taken me WITH his family to see the Panthers play ice hockey and have dinner together with them when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale.  He’s come through with spiritual and mental support, too.  He calls me “Senator”!!  Then there are two brothers (African American) who fit that spiritual support group for me … “Vee” and “Woody” both of whom I’ve met and tried to stay in touch with since college and boarding school respectively!  And yes they are both African American men.  Another guy, Peter Zachary, is no longer with us.  My Jewish friend and his family were a huge support for me, as I tried to be there for him … when I could,  One of our junior high school football teammates, “Howie”, is still a good friend of mine after so many years.  There probably are more, but …  Oh, but wait!!  I have to mention a guy whom I met here … also from the States, “Darren”, who when Caleb Isaac (my GrandSun) was here made sure we had enough to eat every day!!  I always pay my “tab”!  Thanks, Darren!!

So, first of all, let’s congratulate the many many African Americans who have made it to see another month dedicated to “Black History”.  It’s a tough job being a “person of color” in the USA today.  I have continued to broaden my information about the country I was born in that was initially an experiment.  I just recently learned how closely related the “Free Masons” were with the founding fathers and the Federal government itself.  In fact, the first Black Free Mason, Prince Hall, started the Black Free Mason’s Lodge for African American men.  He did this because he was denied entry into the original Free Masons because of his skin color.  Many of “us” people of color owe our existence not only to our immediate families but to ALL those people of color who came to the country and those who inhabited the land before near extermination – Amerinds!

Haven’t you heard the expression: “If you don’t know your history, you’re destined to repeat it!”?  It’s scary!  I had been reading about how the French government charged the Haitian people and government for the profits they lost in agriculture when the Haitian slave revolts forced the French to leave!  The sum of money was astronomical for this already poor country and this “fake” repayment scheme plopped Haiti’s economy into the toilet!  You see, the conversation of reparations to African Americans is not so far-fetched!!  It’s about “man’s (humans) inhumanity to man (humans)”!  African Americans have spent a good part of American History trying to make the country better as they sought to assimilate and make their own lives better.  And even when “they” were rejected by the wider “white” society, they “respected” segregation and built “BLACK WALLSTREET”!  Have you ever heard of that?!?  It was so successful with ALL BLACK-owned and operated banks and businesses, that the “jealous” whites in Tulsa, OK came up with a “fake” story and attacked, and killed innocent people who were making a living that was better than their white counterparts … and burned the ENTIRE city to the ground!!  This event is seldom mentioned in regular “American History” books.  This was another reason that the students in the classes I taught appreciated the FACT that there was more to “Black History” than happy little slaves!!  Once again, people who are “different” including people of color are attempting to help “America” live up to its promises …

Sad news in the States … Memphis, TN to be exact … where five African American police officers stopped, beat, punched, and kicked another African American male, and lied on the reports!  Shortly after he died!  Another “Black” father, son, and brother … all in one … unarmed … and killed by “police”.  You see, it doesn’t matter the color of the officers’ skin, what matters most is to realize that the States MUST put into law the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.  Law enforcement has a long history of corruption dating back to the post-emancipation of African Americans and their connection to white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society.  It’s an intellectual piece missing in current law enforcement practices that needs to be put into place IMMEDIATELY!

In closing, simply try to pay attention to the numerous contributions of African Americans, especially those NOT included in the “history books”.  Be decent, be HUMAN, and try to learn the TRUTH about those contributions and “the people”, too.  Trust me, as a “Black Man”, I know it is no easy topic.  Yet, we have to talk about reducing and eliminating “man’s inhumanity to man”!  It’s a tough job … but WE have to do it … or else face self-destruction! Civil WarII? World War III?? They are not on my bucket list!

Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for your readership!! 😉

“There But For the Grace of God Go I!”

It’s another Happy Friday … for me!  Where are you today?  Is there a TGIF left in you?  Then, TGIF!  Thanks a bunch!  

We’ve all heard that expression “there but for the grace of God go I …”, right?  There are probably different interpretations just like with the word “ignorant”.  Could that be a person who displays a lack of understanding of some task or concept?  Or, is it someone who, say, knows the truth but intentionally chooses to ignore it?  Hmmm?  So, could someone who is in a position to say that be boasting?  Or, perhaps, expressing gratitude for their current situation?  While some folks call “education” something evil created by the “rulers” or government, “self-education” is YOUR responsibility … not the government or even the school!  Ask my Dad (RIP) who raised a family with NO formal education!  I’m his youngest offspring.  It’s YOUR responsibility!  That’s where the real work takes place.  This is the premise of Educational Excellence so that NO ONE can tell you who you are for THEIR personal benefit, and, YOU define yourself!  In order to do this, you MUST “know thyself”!  That takes a lot of work!  What are your skills and talents?  What hurts you?  What makes YOU happy?  These are important questions.  Of course, here, we have to be extremely honest with ourselves.  Are you capable of that?

I’ve come to the conclusion that “you can’t help some folks”, to use a back home expression!  I’m sure some folks even said that about me!! Hehehe!!  I sometimes want to mention all those folks who believed in me and offered opportunities like an academic scholarship to a boarding school and a work-study scholarship to an Ivy League University.  I made good on both.  Now, I don’t think that I am better than anyone else (unless YOU prove it through your ignorance) but I am definitely NOT LESS than anyone else, either!!    In this challenging world that we live in today with so many people ignoring the truth, I often become spiritually nauseous listening to the lies and “one-upmanship” claims hurled around like in a circus.  People sometimes spout such nonsense that you have to be able to protect yourself from “their” ignorance!  (Either definition of ignorance works well here!)

Some of you may remember a few posts back when I went on a tirade about being called “boy” at 68 years of age!  Now, I know that I am in the Caribbean and a lot of people call each other “my boy”!  After 68 years on Earth, I KNOW the significance of a kid working in Old Harbor who sees me regularly, respects me, and says to me “Hey my boy!”  I can handle that.  We do it back home among friends.  Yet, if I am having a meal in a public restaurant at a table with a Caucasian woman from say Croatia … and a US-born Caucasian male passes by the table and says, “Hey boy!” … you better believe that I know the damn difference!!  Those kinds of people are attempting to use their version of racism to control me … who I sit with … where I eat … and how I’m feeling at that moment!  I invited the moron to sit down … he passed on the invitation … and NEVER apologized!  He meant what he said … and so do I!!  Are you freaking kidding me?!?  

I know that it seems like I analyze things and perhaps complain a bit.  That’s what leaders and self-preservationists do who care about not only their own lives but the lives of others AND the Planet we live on.  And no, I wasn’t elected “by the people”.  But I do have a voice, and “good people” are listening, reading, and getting motivated to “Save the Planet”!  I know that I am not for everybody, and I know that if you’re looking for something (someone) to criticize, you may find it in my motivational dialogues.  But, don’t intentionally MISS the point by looking at the placement of a period, spelling, or capital letter.  I’m not perfect but neither are “you”!  And, you don’t have to agree with me either!  I want my voice to be heard.  So many people who look like me are NOT heard, so I represent them, too!  Color doesn’t matter, but the content of your character does, you dig?!

In closing, I am sending a “shout out” to “Johnny Ace” who was and is like a “brother from another mother”!  I’ve slept on his couch many a night instead of sleeping in my car during some tough “pre-retirement” months … maybe years.  He and his woman, “Candy”, are planning a wedding this Spring that I hope to attend in The FTL.  And yes, “Johnny Ace” is white and his Lady is mixed Asian.  They still accept me as a close friend even though I am a bit distant!  Parts of my third book, “Cookin’ With Life!: Cook Book III” by John I. Cook, are dedicated to Ace and Candy and the many many friends like Lee, Charlie, Joel, and John Henry who saw me struggling to get out of the States once “scrump” was elected.  Get a copy if you like.  And no, you don’t have to be my “friend” on Facebook or in real life!  I have enough real, good friends and I don’t want any fake friends.  Visit: “Cookin’ With Life!: Cookbook III, by John I. Cook”  on Amazon Kindle, if you’re interested in browsing the book!

Be well and try to be a part of the solution … not the problem.  It requires positive genuine “thinking” …


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading …

“Get A Hobby, Son!”

Happy Friday, Folks!

Yeah, Y’all … we made it again … be grateful!! TGIF, even!!

So many times, people mistake “kindness for weakness” and even think that if someone tries to “forgive” someone, that person is stupid!  When in fact, it is quite the contrary.  It takes courage and a willingness to be the best that one can be, to admit one was wrong, and to have the courage to CHANGE for the better!  Don’t you just love those folks who have time to talk about and even judge others?  Things must not be that interesting in their lives if they’ve got so much time to judge YOUR life!!  And I just love those complacent people who say, “Oh!  Everybody does that!”  Not me, “mofo”!

Maturity isn’t something that just enters your life.  It’s something that you first have to acknowledge “exists” like TRUTH.  Then, at least for me, when I was struggling with a regular life issue like wanting to go outside into the snow in Westchester County, New York to play … and my Dad said no, I could handle things like my emotions in my young life.  That day when Big Ike said that I couldn’t go outside since I hadn’t done my chores in the tiny 3-bedroom apartment, I began to tap on the window with one knuckle in my bedroom as I looked at the falling snow.  Suddenly, the tapping got so strong that the window broke … and I scratched my arm as it slid through the broken glass!  My father came into the bedroom, looked at me sternly, and said, “Get a hobby, Son!”  He walked away and I got busy cleaning up my arm and the broken glass.  The next day, Winbrook Apartments Maintenance came and repaired the window.  Soon after, I started scribbling words on a piece of paper until it became a crude poem!  I found one of my hobbies … writing!!

As time went on and my life became more intricate, I had to find other hobbies, depending on the situation.  Now, I have always liked sports and working out even … ever since my older brother “Hank” aka Henry Charles Cook (RIP) had shown me the fundamentals of basketball on the small court inside of Winbrook’s Big Playground.  If I told you that a man who never graduated from college or high school (I’m not sure if he ever attended any school!) had counseled me simply by saying “Get a hobby, Son!”, you might not agree.  He didn’t like to call his son “boy”.  I’m sure that he heard that crap enough himself growing up in the racist “Dirty South” as it has sometimes been called.  It was customary for hostile whites to try to keep “Black Men” in their places by calling them “boy”, no matter how old they were.  Please oh please, don’t try that sh@t with me!  I WILL speak up …

You see, I learned that stuffing feelings, especially hurtful ones, allows one’s body to keep the pain inside.  To this day, I think that the bone marrow cancer that my Dad died from was not only caused by his incessant smoking of pipes and cigars (that was his style until he was diagnosed with cancer), but it also came from “stuffing his feelings” from extremely hostile racist encounters with the whites in the “Dirty South” as well as disappointments he faced in his life and family members!  That’s the main reason that he met and married my Mom and then vacated the premises of the “Dirty South” with his brother, my Uncle David and his Bahamian wife, Aunt Corlene.  They found their way to New York City on one of the earliest Amtrak trains linking Florida to the Northeast where many African Americans fled in search of better opportunities other than farming, and, less hostile and aggressive racism as displayed by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klus Klan that spread throughout the “Dirty South” after “slaves” were freed.  Yes, and I am the youngest son of theirs who continues the heritage of excellence to this day.  And to this day, I don’t appreciate being called anybody’s “boy”!  Go call your Momma or Daddy “boy” and see how they like it!!

That “hobby” suggestion that Big Ike made as a way for me to manage my frustrations is still something I do to this day!  For example, I wanted to “cure” or heal arthritis in my hips and NOT get hip replacements.  I started to work out again, practicing yoga and swimming when I first arrived here in Puerto Viejo with my “cane from Spain” and all!!  I took some private sessions with Jackson, a personal trainer here until I met two guys (Father/Son) who practice jiu-jitsu and have set up a nice gym on their property.  They noticed my desire to improve my physical condition and gave me a key to their gym.  A year after, I no longer use my cane unless traveling by airplane, and my physical condition is holding steady after having improved tremendously over the past year!  I still make it a point to work out two or three times a week!  And y’all already know how much I fancy writing!!  SMILE, please!

So, in closing, when the walls seem to be closing in on you … and you CAN’T go outside, “get a hobby”!  Who knows where some good old hard work can take you?


John I. Cook, Director

Thank you for reading!!

Be Yourself . . . Because You are YOU!

Welp. I wouldn’t be “me” if I did throw out the “Happy Friday” greeting!!  So, here it is … TGIF, Y’all!!  Awesome!

At some point in a human’s life, one has to admit that there is “a power greater than ourselves” out here!  I know that with my social scientist lens on, I can see how the “concept of consumption” is endless … right?!?  Until … The END!  Our civilization makes things we need and then there are those “businesses” that make and thrive “big time” on luxury items like yachts and Bentleys and things humans don’t need … and the list goes on and on until …. whatever… The End!  I myself think that humans need to cut back on “luxury toys” especially those that damage our Planet.  It’s like these leaders, politicians, and hard-core capitalists don’t even consider “damage control”!

My belief is that humans are born with some talents or gifts.  If not, then one must focus on something that one likes about oneself until it becomes a “talent or gift”.  Now, some folks come up in environs that inhibit any sort of “gift development” let alone acknowledgment of one’s interests and perhaps talents.  Some of us have to “work with what we’ve got”.  Others may want to change themselves to “fit in” rather than “stand out”.  That’s okay, too, as long as one does not “deny one’s inner self” just to fit in!!  When I look at my life (like many others are doing), I can “see” things that I can’t change …  You guessed it … my skin color!  How about my “New York” accent or my interests in sports and youth and education and stuff?  I mean, that’s who I am!!  I didn’t “decide” it … I rolled with the punches and stayed with my parents’ direction and love until I was able to stand pretty much on my own and help develop my own talents and skills.  At least, I was able to figure stuff out … in my life!!  I had to avoid (and be hit by!) a lot more punches than many of my contemporaries did because of “who” I am!  Don’t start tripping now because I am not complaining about my ability to run “the gauntlet” and come out relatively sane!

When I consider my parents’ humble beginnings (and end), I have no choice except to rise to the occasion.  I want THEM to be proud of their work and not look for nor make excuses for my lack of interest and intention in my own life.  My Mom and Dad rolled with punches far greater than the ones in my gauntlet!!  This is not a time for me to make excuses and blame “others”.  This is my time to “be myself” and “be the best that I can be”!!  It sometimes saddens me to see people play games with their own lives and even attempt to play games with others’ lives.  Count me OUT of that game … I don’t want to play or gamble with this precious gift of My life!!  Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are EACH different creations with different abilities, skills, and yes … challenges.  We don’t have to make excuses for ourselves, we need to “seize the moment” and make it something good or even better than before!

These past few weeks have been full of “signs” that I am on the right track, being me and stuff!!  I will continue working with Educational Excellence as a platform to advocate anti-racism, anti-ignorance, and spirituality, with an emphasis on my social science background!  You bet, there is a science to the challenges in our human societies.  But, it seems that we don’t have the time or interest in discovering these truths!  We don’t have time to “come together” even though we live on the same Planet, in the same countries, and even in the same communities!  “Why oh why aren’t we intelligent enough to get along with a world full of excellent opportunities at living?”

Just some things to think about this new year,  Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

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