“Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrims!”

Happiest of Thanksgivings


It’s Hump Day, yeahhh!!
Yes, it’s about to go down … Thanksgiving Style!!  I try not to think back too much to the story of the “Pilgrims and the Native Americans”, which have gotten more interpretations than the Bible!  One thing we can be sure of, is that the Native Americans here in North America were genuinely hospitable … and were clearly taken advantage of, over-powered and had “the land” that they lived on taken away by the “settlers from Europe” who sought to establish colonies to further their interest in expanding “joint stock companies” in the Americas.  The slave trade was in integral part of the “Triangular Trade”, and, colonists sought to add tobacco to the equation of how to build more wealth … from the land!!

The concept of land ownership often bothers me for various reasons.  Between the parking tickets I have gotten where Police Departments of different cities claim to “own” the land that your car is parked on and you have to PAY to park YOUR car on THEIR land, and the presence of officers  nearly everywhere, I don’t know which one makes me more nervous!!!  We all know the concept of “nationalism” and how it shaped the expansion of Western Europe into their colonies world-wide.  It was like a competition, especially in North America, where part of the “13 Colonies” were occupied by French explorers, Spanish explorers and the British whose colonization ultimately was predominant in the USA.  What happened to the Native Americans who welcomed the likes of Italian explorer Columbus and the first settlers in Jamestown from England?  You can well tell what happened to them … disease brought to them, massacres and tribes destroyed through superior weaponry and alcohol.  Remember now, the first “Amerinds” said to be from what we call the Bahamas today, were carried over the ocean to serve as servants to the Spanish elite and got sick, got cold from the climate … and died!  Those left here were hustled on to reservations!!!  Believe it … or not!
So, it is at this point that I really want to say “Thank You” to so many of you who read these e-mails and blog posts, and have come to my aide many many times when life had thrown me a few curve balls … back to back!  My goal most often is to sensitize us or not let us forget certain things that I think get “swept under” the politically correct “rug” far too often!  Yet, simultaneously to my commentary of the origins of Thanksgiving, I want to wish everyone everywhere … where ever this e-mail may go … a very Happy Thanksgiving … American Style!

John I. Cook, Director

“As The World Turns . . .”

As the world turns


Happy Friday, All!

Can we purse our lips to say, “T.G.I.F.” today?!?  We just need to say a “Thank You!” EVERYDAY to our Creator.  Have you taken a look around the world today?!?  It is pretty frightening indeed!!  This is what I was alluding to on Veteran’s Day … that the USA (and others) have some of the best “weapons” to fight with today … sad as it may sound … because the ultimate goal of “weaponry” is destruction!!  Is that what makes “The World Turn” today?!?
Well, my daughter Ayanna Lynne recently had a baby boy, Caleb Isaac.  As well, yesterday, they held a funeral for her great grandmother, Ida, who passed from a cardiac arrest after falling and breaking her shoulder and her hip!  So, as the old African American folklore has it, “one comes … and one goes” … peace be still …
As we look around the world with ISIS literally causing and wreaking havoc all over the world, and recently, they have leveled threats at the USA’s well known New York City … it is hard for one to be comfortable!  Must we live in a world where we have to look over our shoulders in our own neighborhoods?  In our own cities?  In our own country?  What do we really “own”?  Is it ours to keep?  I wonder about that concept sometimes … ownership.  Putin of Russia has vowed to get back at ISIS and has been dropping bombs “left and right” in an effort to wipe them out!  French military strength is coming out in full force as well, in retaliation for the extremely unnecessary and harmful attacks there in Paris last weekend!
Back when I was a youngster, there was a television show called, “As The World Turns”.  It was a very popular “soap opera” that came on in the afternoons.  Even my mother used to watch it as she did house chores … either at our home or at her clients’s homes.  Today, we have a much more serious human condition at hand.  Does it appear that we won’t be satisfied until we … I use that term loosely … destroy ourselves?!?  Have you noticed that tendency amongst humanity nowadays?!?  It does frighten me as well.  Yet, I choose to be at peace with the universe … while I can.
Enjoy your weekends …
John I. Cook


“In The Beginning . . .”

the beginning


Happy Hump Day, YEAHHHHH!

My oh my!!!  This year is flying by!!  I mean, we are already looking at Thanksgiving like next week!  Can you believe it?!?  Do you feel like the year “passed you by”?!?  This is the reason that I make the most of every day … with gratitude in my attitude, you dig?!?
Every year, some of us decide to start the New Year off right … signing up at the gym, promising to quit smoking … or lying … or cheating!!  Funny, right?!?  Most of us give up shortly after the New Year begins … and call it a “wrap”!!!  Changes come … and changes go.  As I prepare for Thanksgiving and the following “holy days”, I am seeking yet more changes in my own life.  It is always good to re-evaluate ones direction in life … especially if one is going “off course”!!  What are the predictors of “off course”?  I am sure it is different for each person, depending on what our personal values entail.  I admire those folks who “think outside the box”!!  After all, it is much easier to just “follow” what other people are doing, or saying, and more difficult to adjust ones own feelings to “fit” what someone else wants you to feel!!!
Have you ever wondered how things were … ” … in the beginning …”?  In the beginning of WHAT you might ask?  The week?  The month? Maybe the year?? How about YOUR life??  Okay, go deep, in the beginning of T.I.M.E.!  Did I mess y’all up with that last one!?  Shucks, I know folks don’t wanna think that far back … but we’d have to in order to find out if “we humans” are “off course”?  What did our Creator want for us?  Do we give a flying horses tail?!  Well … we should!!!  I look at this year and we have witnessed some horrible human behavior … Athletes beating the “ladies” … Stars being accused of all sorts of sexual indecent behavior ( from Sheen to Cosby ) … Racial hatred burgeoning into murder, any and everywhere … from Baltimore, MD to West Palm Beach, FL … Mass killings from “coast to coast”!!!  International drama is at its WORST with planes full of innocent people on them being blown right out of the sky  … then France and Africa!!! Even Russian leader Putin is so angry about the Egyptian flight with mostly Russians on board blown from the sky that he vows to get “even” and punish the perpetrators of the bombing!!
Does anyone have time to wonder what’s wrong with humanity?  Do some of us dare to care?  Or are we all wrapped up in our individual concerns and journeys that we don’t care … UNLESS it “benefits” us personally?!?  So much has occurred in my life personally … challenges, successes … and of course, I am still here to tell youse about it!!  I even lived to be a grandfather!! No … I am not cocky, but fairly confident and proud of the way I handle myself and the situations I encounter.  I mean, why shouldn’t I be!?!!  That’s why I share the oft so personal things with readers so you can have some idea of what even “I” face each day … being an African American male!  I can tell you … it ain’t nothing to shake a stick at!!
John I. Cook, Director

“Let Me Tell You Something . . . “

Let me tell you shorty



Happy Friday, y’all!!!

Yep, I am still at it … wishing everyone far and wide a Happy Friday … T.G.I.F.!!!
So much going on around town, in the country … and world-wide!  Just sayin’!  Have you ever noticed how some folks start off their “stories”?!?  Like … “What happened was …” or “Do you know what really went down?” Or … “Let me tell you something …”… then, you can brace yourself for whatever comes out next … usually a twisted story!!!  I wonder if folks know how they sound trying to convince you … or someone else … of something that they hardly know to be true?!?  Well, I usually don’t judge, but I usually listen … not because I am convinced, but because I like to “hear folks out” first!!
So, some of you may remember the situation I mentioned … having my position changed in the company from QC (Quality Control) to a sales rep. for the company I’ve worked for over a year now … two years in April 2016 … and my pay reduced from $15/hour to $13/hour with a one day notice … It hasn’t changed much, though I “held my own” in the sales department!  Now, the explanation given was “understandable”, but in my opinion, not fair!  Why?!?  Because I had worked the previous two weeks in Quality Control and was NOT in the sales representative division.  Is it time for a change?!?  I am feeling it more than ever now!!!
So … third time I am using “so” to start a paragraph … Things don’t make me say “so” unless it needs some serious contemplating!!!  I was told, “So if you get 10 deals a day and no events like a car problem or late to work, I will raise you back to $15/hr.”  I did that, went to talk with the “person” and they had prepared an excuse to avoid what the “person” had previously told me …  It is hard to fathom how folks can behave like that … and live with themselves!!  Dishonesty is a major human flaw in people nowadays …. hmmmpppffff.
Now, needless to say … this is causing all kinds of challenges in my “financial affairs”.  Pray for me …

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Veteran’s Day 2015!! “Oooo- Rahhh!”

Veterans 2015


Yes, today is Wednesday … Hump Day …. and Veteran’s Day!
So much to be thankful for with the military presence we … the USA … hold in the world today.  Many of us … me included …. I am sure take for granted some of the freedoms we have here in terms of our lifestyle.  Sports in arenas and amusement parks of all shapes and sizes … and rides.  Clubs and restaurants …. lakes and rivers to boat and canoe in …. Thanks Veterans … and those presently serving.
At this time, I want to congratulate a good friend, former room mate from St. Paul’s School senior year with Robert Aurelius Hipp (RIP), Mr. Larry T. Woody who has been instrumental if not pivotal in establishing an excellent program for “Fathers” and has received a Federal grant to continue this important work.  He also just got a promotion to take things even further!  Kudos, LT Woody!  The “Focus on Families & Fathers Initiative” in Philadelphia owes much to your case management work and dedication!
Our world is one plagued with violence … and it appears to be part of the “human condition”.  That is, we like to fight … wars and battles and stuff!!  Personally, us humans also gravitate towards groups.  Even if there are three people, two usually join sides against the other.  Heh!!  Who knew!!  I learned that in social psychology … whenever that happens … rather than have a “church”-type development, we choose sides and “go to war”!  “When in Rome … do as the Romans do!”  Well, as we live in a world as previously described, it is beneficial to have excellent “armed forces”.  Thusly, we in the U.S.A. celebrate Veteran’s Day.  That would be today … “Oooo- rahhh!”, as the saying goes amongst the brave and fearless soldiers of the United States of America.  So, going out to those who have served … RIP … those who are serving … and those who will serve, perhaps, Happy Veteran’s Day!
John I. Cook, Director

Happy 10th Home Going Anniversary Marietta Dolores!

Remembering Mom


Happy Friday, All!
And a wonderful “T.G.I.F.” to each of youse!!  It’s a special day beyond just being Friday for me … and my family!!  It is the tenth anniversary of my mother’s “Going Home” Day!!  A few years ago, an elementary school childhood friend, Robert “Bobby” Schulman, helped my family put a plaque on Mom’s grave located in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY!  It was a very noble gesture on his part, and, he also had his son Ariel and his son’s mother join us there to celebrate the placing of her plaque on her grave site.  We had many family friends there who also knew and loved my mother, including my daughter Ayanna; my sister Edna; Yvonne, JoAnn and Gordon Derouseau; my great nephew Trent and my sister’s son and my nephew, Brandon; and the Landauer’s for whom my mother worked for many many years … “Betty” and Gail and Alan with whom we all stayed during that trip!
Quite memorable … quite special and NEVER EVER to be forgotten.  We love you Marietta Dolores … Until we meet again.  She taught me so many things in becoming the peaceful warrior that I am.  She encouraged me to embrace education, communication and yes … spirituality.  Her favorite gem for me in “times of trouble” was The 23rd Psalm …
Enjoy your weekends, folks.  After all … it is also “No Shave November”!

John I. Cook, Director

And We’ve Landed …. Again!!

Einstein's lies

It’s Tuesday … is it Taco Tuesday in your town!?  I don’t know what to do sometimes … just “acting a fool”!!  I mean, other people do it … and nobody says “nuthin'”!!!?  How come?!  I had one person comment as he wove a bunch of lies to explain how and/or why he cut my hourly pay by $2.00 that I was “Mr. Positivity”!!

 Now … what is wrong with being “positive”?!?  And why would you say that … to a “brother”?!?  I assume this is not only an ignorant comment … but like I told y’all before … “black men” have to put up with some sh@t … even in the work place.  Stay with me on this … It was Thursday, the second week of our work week in the pay schedule … and this person  tells me: “Okay your check tomorrow will be at $13/hr instead of $15/hr.”  The explanation that followed was soooo ridiculous … I can’t even explain it!!  You should’ve heard this “person” try to explain to someone who already knew it was an excuse … for personal reasons which I still don’t know … but I suspect it is because I am so positive!!!  Now, I share this with you folks for various reasons … but the main one should be obvious!
Now, I know some folks would say the typical ignorant comment … “You probably deserved it!”  OR “You must have done something to deserve it!”  Well, I wasn’t selling loose cigarettes on the street in NYC but simply at work … late maybe 2-5 minutes on 4 or 5 occasions due to a car accident or the vehicle not starting or having to get my license renewed … which we can’t do except between 9 and 5 …
I just wonder what some people think a brother is to do … definitely NOT grin and bear it.  Yet, I won’t feed into their “nasty little hands” and allow myself to get caught up in their little webs …  This is why I meditate and pray … and do yoga … and seek peace ALWAYS!


John I. Cook, Director

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