Don’t Make Me Laugh . . . or Cry!!!

Humor and Hurt

 

It’s Tuesday …

Well, at least not today, as we had experienced a week ago, it is not so tumultuous.  There was an incredibly cowardly attack on folks … innocent folks … at an airport in Brussels, Belgium … as well as in an underground train (subway) station last week!  ISIS/ISOL has claimed credit for the attacks while the second in command of the terrorist group is said to have been killed by the US Military.  Yet, on Capitol Hill yesterday, a man from Tennessee decided that he wanted to fire a round once trying unsuccessfully to pass a security check point in the Visitor’s Reception area.  Most families came to see the cherry blossoms that appear in D.C. to signal the official coming of Spring in the nation’s capitol but got a glimpse of the nation’s drama as one man even tried to break into the White House!  Both men were arrested and one woman was hit by shrapnel from the shots fired by the disgruntled Tennessee man … no one was seriously injured.  But can you imagine what the people thought when officers ran across that heavily populated area yelling, “Move!  Move!  Move!  Shots fired!”??!!
Now, have you heard the “story” about the panic at Miami International Airport yesterday as people fled from the terminals, others were kept out of the terminal and were backed up outside on the curbside locations … even flights w ere cancelled?!?  Someone had left a bag … a suitcase … unattended … and it was vibrating!!!  Rather than witness what had just taken place last week in Brussels, law enforcement cleared the area near the bag until it was discovered that there was an electrical shaver inside that had unexpectedly turned itself on!!  It is so easy to contemplate … whether to laugh … or cry nowadays.  Humanity almost expects panic and terror, as it has become so much more obviously prevalent, partly due to mass media … and partly due to “crazies” … and some near innocent mishaps!
When do we laugh?!  When do we cry?!  Some of you may remember that I wrote about my employment situation, even asking for folks to help me out getting to my 40th Anniversary at Princeton University for Memorial Day Weekend.  Yeah, so the office where I work is one of the places now facing closing.  It happens a lot everywhere, but it seems to be happening more in SoFlo I guess because I live here.  I looked around the office, even asking managers and employees alike … “What’s happening to the company?”  No one seems to know.  My assignment ends in a few days and we have mixed reviews as to if it will continue … most think not!  The other “side” of the office where I worked for nearly two years marketing diabetic supplies and pain creams have been told that they have maybe three more months!!  Do we laugh or do … we cry?!?  Or do we turn to a life of crime?!?  Not interested.  I have been homeless for a short period of time before and have eaten at soup kitchens and churches, even been fed on Ft. Lauderdale Beach by different groups of kindhearted folks.  I have been applying for another job for the past few months … as many of us … especially the young brothers with children, maybe even a “baby’s momma” around!  We talk it up during breaks, keep doing our work like “clockwork”, and as for me, I am fortunate enough now to still have my yoga.  Shucks, I even went to Calvary on Easter Sunday for a basic service though many of us had gotten used to having a university stadium in Boca Raton, FL as our location for Calvary’s Easter Celebration!!  Not this year … keeping it real!  I try to stay balanced … just in general … and am always with my eyes and ears open for the next opportunity for employment!  Does anyone want to help out with the round trip airfare and rental car for my Graduation Anniversary?!?  Should I do a “Go Fund Me” account/page.  Of course, I would be okay if I didn’t go … I should live through it … just sayin’!
So, as we move forward … in our families and groups of friends, neighborhoods and communities … we see some folks just “helping others out”!  Others have panicked and frustrated themselves and entered a life of crime.  May we try to keep our balance, as many of my yoga practises suggest – the ying and the yang – are all part of human life … perhaps, parts of life, in general, for any living thing.  Again, I reach out to each of you, as I sometimes do with my daughter and her baby boy Caleb Isaac.  I just want you guys to know I appreciate you each very much … and as I told Ayanna … “I love you”!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

Celebrate The Resurrection

John 1125

 

Happy Friday, y’all!

I think we can all agree on a T.G.I.F. … pray for peace in Brussels and elsewhere …
These are the times that try “human’s” souls!  What can we do with our world today?  Is it too late to save it?  How can we save it?
I find peace and solace in different ways.  I like peace and solace … probably more than anything … other than food!!  Us humans need that fuel to continue along our journeys.  What other things do we need?  Do “we” have too much of anything?  Should we share it?  Is it something material … or is it spiritual?  Is it life sustaining?  Our society, with its Western roots, if you will, focuses a lot on material things … trains and bridges … skyscrapers and sports complexes … towns and cities, even!  Do we need a spiritual balance?  Is that important, too?
For me, The Jesus Story is one that tries to put the need for spirituality into its proper perspective.  I could be wrong, but everything in our world today has a “physical” appeal … It is pretty, or … it is big … or it is colorful, or long or short … fat or skinny … These are all physical characteristics.  Can a business be peaceful or honest?  Does it matter, given our business principles?  Do we hoard peace or honesty … maybe understanding?  Can we get enough of “those things”?
Okay, I’ve gone on a bit, perhaps … too far for some of us.  Maybe it is completely ridiculous for others of “us”.  My only point here is that maybe we could learn something more about ourselves … travel inside a bit more … reach for some spirituality even … during this Easter/Resurrection Celebration.  Of course, we will each do as we want, and that is our individual privilege and right to do so!  Values like humility and conflict resolution don’t get much “play” in the media.  I look at some friends responses and replies on social media and most of it focuses on acquisition of things, the power of things … stuff like, “Why doesn’t the president blow up this group or fight with that group?!?”  Very few themes supporting our POTUS’s efforts to tear down barriers and seek understanding and peaceful resolution of things!  Maybe those things are important, too!  What about YOU?
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

The Passion of The Christ

Passion of Christ

 

Howdy, Folks!

It’s Tuesday, the first few days of Spring have arrived as of Sunday; weather is changing in different places and we even have a cold snap in the mornings for a few days in South Florida!  I am still “weathering” my own storms … In fact, they got so “challenging”, I took it to Calvary Chapel on Sunday … just to hear about hope, revival … resurrection … and EASTER!  You know, it happens to “the best of us”.  Sometimes we want to talk about it, sometimes we don’t.  Whatever your choice is, if you are human, you definitely THINK about it.
I am glad that my parents, Mary and Big Ike, brought me up in the Baptist Church … it still helps give me some stability in tough times.  Needless to say, in good times, I often find myself saying the simplest of prayers – Thank You!  Last night I had the pleasure of presenting a “workshop” to parents of some of the youth in the Broward Sheriff’s Office Community Justice Program.  Not only did I come away with a deeper understanding of what parents face with their “children” nowadays, who seem to grow up overnight and even challenge their parents to “touch them” … and they will call the police, but I also developed a greater understanding of the “Program” run by a long time friend of Educational Excellence whom I met some years ago while she was studying counseling and behavioral psychology.  Kudos to you Nicole Valencia Mercado.  Thank you so much for giving ME these opportunities!  I learned a lot last night as I listened to the parents speak on different issues once I had finished my presentation.
These are some tough times we are living in, values have gone to the wayside and everyone has their own particular “challenges”, be it personally, physically, spiritually … and of course, financially.  With all of that weighing down on “us”, we are often in need of a daily “resurrection of sorts”.  Coupled with my yoga practise, meditation and my work with Educational Excellence, which is strictly volunteer nowadays, I find attending a non-denominational service adds to my fortitude and love.  Now I know many of us will be talking about the “Easter Bunny”, commercialized as Easter has become.  But please don’t miss the important points set forth in some organized religions, like the “Passion: Live” done Sunday night with narrator Tyler Perry.
Please don’t think that “you” or “me” are beyond the necessity of a “revival/resurrection” of sorts.  In listening to the parents last night, I could hear their frustrations with a nearly “double standard” of parenting, as we live in a society that emphasizes “personal liberty” over love and peace … before truth and honesty … not to mention humility and understanding.  We jump to criticize each other rather than do as the “old church” philosophy suggests, taking care of one another.
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

Just When You Thought It Was Safe . . .

Progress is Progress

 

Happy Friday, All!
And a one, a two … a one, two, three, four …. “T.G.I.F.”!!  Yayyy!
It’s been “going down”, as they say in some circles when things get very heavy … hard to handle even.  Well, the first thing I want to do is give a quick shout out to my daughter, Ayanna Lynne, and her son … my first and only grandson … Caleb Isaac!  Tomorrow, Caleb will be 5 months old.  I don’t mention either of them too much on these posts or on Facebook because she is a much more private person than I am!  We each have our own ways of dealing with things so I respect her wishes.  Kudos to you guys … I love you both … and do the best I can towards youse, though I haven’t had a chance to meet Caleb yet, as they are in Connecticut.  I hope to see them both soon … my Creator and some good people willing.
So, my job has now gone “1099”, our health insurance has been cancelled and we are working only 7 hours a day now!  There are actually like two companies owned by the same young CEO, a very decent guy whom I have worked with since I got in to the “call center” environment for employment.   I will be 62 in a few months and am trying to get to Princeton University for my 40th Reunion of the Class of 1976!  A classmate of mine, Lloyd Lawrence, suggested that I try going so I connected with a class member who was able to get ALL expenses AT the reunion covered for me!  His name is Willy Landrigan and is a recipient of this e-mail, too.  I can’t see getting or saving enough by the weekend of May 26th, 2016 to cover my airfare and a rental car for the three day weekend.  Here’s my question:  “Do any of you have friends in the travel industry who may be able to donate a round trip ticket from Ft. Lauderdale to Newark Airport and a rental car for me to use for that weekend?”  I need the help, pretty much, as I am still paying off loans to companies and a personal friend when my car repairs exceeded like $2k back in October/November of 2015 when I was living in Hollywood, FL commuting nearly an hour each morning to work … and experienced car electrical problems that I HAD to get repaired to get back and forth to work … or anywhere else for that matter!  I am asking for help, not sure if I will be able to pay it back, so, if there is someone who can pay it forward that you know … please … PLEASE let me know, as I will need to firm up the reservation at Princeton before cancelling it.  So, I’ve got two things in my “unannounced Bucket List” that I am trying to get accomplished.  One more Anniversary/Reunion from Princeton, AND an opportunity perhaps to see my grandson in CT that same weekend, if only for a few hours.  I am just asking … It is always better to ask and be told “NO” … or “YES” … than never to ask at all.
My current job assignment ends in two weeks, the last day of this month, and I am looking feverishly for another employment opportunity, which is why I am not sure of how things will be for me in two months come Reunion time.  It would be my second reunion at Princeton, as I did attend my 25th Reunion with one of my ex-wives, Simona, and we had a good time.  Shucks, we even slept in the rental car, which was an upgraded Chrysler 300 back in 1990 or so,  Let me know … help me get two things off of my “unplanned bucket list”, if you can.  If you can’t, just wish me well.
I am going to keep on trucking, keeping the faith and hoping to do whatever I can do … as I am exhausted with disappointments I have experienced after attending an Ivy League University on an academic scholarship and getting a Master’s Degree and teaching both in the USA and Cali, Colombia … and now … as I approach retirement, I am nearly jobless and homeless!!  I ain’t complaining, I am just saying.  Let me know what you can do … maybe there are a few of you who might want to join in to help me out!  I would greatly appreciate it.
So, in the mean time, I am getting this correspondence out and I am off to work … sketchy as everything seems … and I am keeping the faith!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

Dem Clowns Is Gettin SCARY!

clown runs for pres

 

It’s Tuesday, y’all!  “Super Tuesday” … in particular here in the State of Florida … where the Republican Clowns set up for their “4 Ring Circus”!  Did you ever think you would see the day when an outright “racist” is allowed to run for the highest office in this democratic nation?!?  You see, it was funny when you heard Marco Rubio start every “speech” with: “When I become president, I am going to undo everything that Barack Obama put into place!” … until even he realized that it takes more to become president of this Nation.  It was funny to hear Chris Christie and even Dr. Ben Carson “toot their own horns” even though they were the ONLY ones in their bands until …. Donald Trump wasn’t sure if he wanted to denounce Ku Klux Klansman, Duke!!  Now, sh@t ain’t so funny no more!
It was almost funny … but a bit scary … when Trump’s rallies become more and more confrontational until some people had had enough of his racist, ignorant, “self righteous” bigotry!  It wasn’t funny anymore when a Trump supporter, an old white man of maybe 75 years of age, sucker punched an African American man being peaceful as he was escorted out of a Trump rally.  It damn sure wasn’t funny when Trump offered to pay the man’s legal fees!!!  Then, both he and Trump . . . alluded to the fact that if this were “the olden days”, the African American protestor might be killed!!   Freakin’ imbecile, that he is …. thinks his “stolen” money can buy anything … even an election while he “trumps” around in his private plane at his private golf course in Palm Beach, Florida talking about everybody except his own “momma”!!  Sh@t’s scary now, y’all!!!  And he is so arrogantly ignorant that he still blames Bernie Sanders for the “slug-like” racists who follow him around like dumb ducks quacking the same noise that Looney Tunes Trump does!  It ain’t funny no more!  Other countries are even talking about NOT welcoming him within their borders, damn wanna be POTUS.  How funny it was … how stupid the Republicans are … how that a madman has taken the lead in their own party’s presidential nomination race?!!
Does this situation shed any light on the “ignorance” of many Americans who actually go out and support this character?!?  Unequivocally Y.E.S. … dumb A$$ morons!  He even goes as far, Trump that is, to say” “We love the poorly educated!!”  Who is proud of hearing such an unsophisticated insult?!!  And all the GOP candidates thought Obama was the problem!!  I bet they wish someone L.I.K.E. Obama was in their “camp” who is probably the only one who CAN take Trump on!!!  Be careful what you wish for … you might get “Trump” for president … and he’ll sell us to the highest bidder!!  That is NOT funny …
Vote wisely!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Do YOUR Weekend, Y’all!

street fair

 

Happy Friday, y’all!

I will do it until I can’t do it “no more”!  T.G.I.F.!
It’s the weekend, Baby!  What are you going to do?!?  Shucks, if you live in SoFlo, though there will be people from all over to Miami’s  World’s Largest Street Festival – “Calle Ocho”, in Little Havana, you already have an idea.  Spring Breakers are breaking into town everywhere!  They are filming the new “Bay Watch” between Deerfield Beach and Miami’s South Beach these past few weeks.  In fact, a real life guard actually saved some of the actors in the movie as they got caught up in a rip tide and almost drowned!  Can you say, “Life is just a moment … you’d better enjoy it!”?  That is the title of an old fusion jazz tune from my college days by Roy Ayers!  The good thing was that while at Princeton, I made sure I enjoyed myself … playing freshman basketball, going to concerts from jazz to psychodelic funk … even landing a spot disc jockeying a “jazz”/funk/avant garde type of music that even  some of the alumnae called in to say they enjoyed some of the shows!
I know we’ve all heard the expression: “Just Do YOU!!” … or something like that!  After 3 years at a boarding school in New Hampshire from 10th grade to 12th, my yearbook read: “Be yourself, because you are you!”  Now, I studied every darn thing from Spanish to “The Ethics of Violence and Non-Violence” and read books like “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire.  So I know how to read and pass courses … even write papers, junior papers and a senior thesis.  I almost grew tired of the stuff because I took some of it almost personally … like I could really change anything while being given a scholarship to study there.  Of course, I did some bad stuff, I wasn’t perfect, but I was basically a good guy, sometimes a leader … and definitely an adventurer.  I graduated cum laude in English, Spanish and religion … I knew what I was talking about a bit then, too.  I was “me”, but that place helped to develop the “me” away from home at an all boys boarding school.  Other than the classroom and the woods, my favorite place was the gym!  I haven’t changed much ’cause that was “me”.  I even had the pleasure of meeting a fine person, he and his wife, Coach Maurice Blake who was my football coach, and my basketball coach as well as the athletic director there at St. Paul’s.
I’ve done stuff since then … good stuff … and bad stuff … paid my dues … damn I have.  And still keep my head up … thinking and acting as positive as I can.  I have gotten through some tougher times than these, which is what keeps me faithful.  Yet, I know that it wasn’t just “me”.  In fact, it was some of y’all … probably driven by our Creators to link us up bringing out a spiritual friendship, perhaps …  Maybe not.  YOU KNOW … what YOU are!!  You know how you can make yourself better, maybe … Maybe not.  So, enjoy your weekends being “YOU”, include the good things … don’t be embarrassed … it’s okay to be nice, with restraint!  We all have good in us!
Have a great weekend!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

Don’t Abandon Your Dreams!

abandoned house

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Alright … so … it was Sunday morning and I was feeling way under the weather … I mean, sinus congestion, body aches and the likes!  It was one of those mornings when I didn’t want to even leave home, just wanted to hunker down and get to feeling better.  So, since I wasn’t up to heading over to Calvary Chapel to hear “the word”, I turned on Joel Osteen’s televangelist program.  It was just what I needed to hear!
Many of you know how long I have been at keeping Educational Excellence going … blogs and e-mails and an occasional motivational talk when given the opportunity.  And Joel started talking about “not giving up on your dreams”, no matter how buried they appear to have gotten!!  Don’t lose faith in your dreams, they may be transformed to better suit “your” needs and they may not be as lofty as “you” had once anticipated.  After all, some of the best intention people don’t have “lofty” goals!  Enter Gandhi … or King … shucks, even Mother Theresa!!!
So, I will have an opportunity to speak with the parents of the youth that I spoke with for the Community Justice Program sponsored by the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Mrs. Nicole Valencia Mercado next weekend.  I am excited to be a part of yet another platform in reaching out to the community here.  There are so many “Big Boys”, like Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat who has a powerful program in Overtown, FL!  Last weekend, they had a basketball event with the “Black Lawyers” for the area who played for and entertained the youth there in Overtown.  It was successful, and, the youth there really really appreciated the work that Mourning and the Overtown Youth Center do for the local youth.  There can never ever be enough done to bolster the “Stop the Violence” Movements … world-wide, but definitely not here in our “own backyards”!  May we keep in mind that while humility and the “desire to give back” is  not very common amongst “The Biggest Boys”, like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who are unique not only because they figured out one of the “keys to capitalism” and have amassed great wealth, but also because they have huge hearts for “others”!
I still have plans for my third book … before I die … though I hope I can adjust and manipulate my “life” to fit it in soon.  This is another one of my dreams that I shall not abandon.  Do you have any such “wishes” or dreams?!  Don’t abandon them … unless your Creator decides it is to be abandoned … You’ll be able to tell the difference!  Have a wonderful day.
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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