Andover Classmate, FRED PRATT, says: Chasing Birds is a form of Friendship with our Natural World – June 2020

TEAM PIPIT ( Fred and wife Chris ) – Extraordinary Birding Feat: 150 species in all 14 Vermont Counties – Picture here with son John

January 13, 2019:     We found a delightful breakfast place in downtown Leesville, always an encouraging way to start the day. The people were friendly, the food was good, and we were given helpful directions for finding accessible sections of the national forest. Of course, we had checked e-bird for locations where Red-cockaded Woodpeckers had recently been seen, but we knew we were in for a long search. The forest roads led in all directions and appropriate habitat seemed to be everywhere. We explored for most of the morning without any success. Eventually, we decided to try a change of scenery and headed off to the Dove Field Recreation Area, a large wildlife management area of open fields, known to be especially good for raptors and sparrows. We got there around 1:00 in the afternoon and in a little over an hour mustered up 14 species. Among them, were an immature Northern Harrier, 2 American Kestrels, 2 Savannah Sparrows and at least 15 Chipping Sparrows. The habitat was so enticing, however, that we resolved to come back the next morning if we had time.

We started back to the piney woods to try again for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. On the way, in the small town of Fullerton, we chanced upon a flurry of bird activity. There was a field separated from the road by a wall or some kind of fence. There were two or three small trees in the field close to the fence. Some woods ran along one side of the field. We pulled over to the side of the road and parked. In the space of ten minutes, we found 3 Turkey Vultures, one Red-shouldered Hawk, an American Kestrel, a Pileated Woodpecker, 2 Eastern Phoebes, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2 Eastern Bluebirds and an estimated 20 American Robins. It was one of those unanticipated moments of excitement that birdwatchers love.

We proceeded on to the national forest to renew our search for the elusive Red-cockaded Woodpecker. This time we were successful. My checklist gives the time as 3:55 PM and the location as the Calcasieu Ranger District (Vernon Unit) of the Kisatchie National Forest. I doubt I could find the exact location again, even with the help of a map and a compass. The forest in this area is carefully managed to preserve the Longleaf Pines so favored by our target bird. The woods stretch on for many miles. Clumps of marked nest trees beckon in all directions. It was just a matter of time before we would encounter foraging birds. I think it might have been the robins and bluebirds that first caught our attention. These species are often found in open pine woods with grassy undergrowth. Perhaps it was the Pine Warblers and the more numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers. In any case, presently Pat spotted (or heard) woodpeckers. Adrenalin started flowing, my aging legs started creaking. Pat was shouting, I was stumbling. Eventually, I got two birds in my binoculars. I could see the broad white cheek patch and the barred black and white back. Years ago, when I first found these birds in Florida, I did so with coolness and confidence. Today, it was a desperate struggle with age. Our checklist totals tell the full story: 15 American Robins, 4 Eastern Bluebirds, 12 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Pine Warblers, and 2 Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.

American Pipit , Team Pipit’s mascot and namesake. This bird happened to be the Pratt’s 150th species in Caledonia County, found on Sept. 16, 2018

Fred Pratt once said to Billy about “Endearing Songs and Singing ” Your latest idea is neither naive nor all that novel. When I was studying German at the famed graduate language school at Middlebury College (back in the 1960’s), we regularly sang German folk songs (Volkslieder) as a means not only to learn popular and colloquial German, but also as a means of encountering and appreciating a different language and culture. We had a wonderful little book of songs which introduced itself with these words:“Sprich, und du bist mein Mitmensch; Singe, und wir sind Brueder und Schwestern!” This translates easily into English: “Speak, and you are my fellow man (human being); Sing, and we are brothers and sisters!”


BILLY’S CORRESPONDENCE with NONA WYMAN – Few Words Much Heart – 6/2020

Nona Mock Wyman at her store Ming Quong – Radiant Light – Walnut Creek, California, U.S.A.

Nona Mock Wyman was only 2 years old when she was abandoned at the Ming Quong orphanage in Los Gatos in 1935. One of her earliest memories is watching her mother walk out the door and never return. While she will never forget the pain of that loss, Wyman is a survivor. She has authored four books : Chopstick Childhood in a Tow 1997 – Bamboo Women 2012 – Ten Thousand Flowers 2015 – Chopstick Childhood 2018. She has kept in touch with her friends. _________________________________________________________

Billy : I started website <> presenting articles shining light on various aspects of Friendship & Friendshipology. Would love to have a brief article from you, Nona, on how you keep in touch with your childhood friends etc. etc.. RSVP Cheers !

Nina : seems the way I correspond w/Ming Quong ‘girls’ is –‘from the heart.’ what speaks 2 me, I forward; 4 example, Elena’s letter reignites, as she is a dedicated, respectful person; plus I’m aware of Maeley Tom –so forward to my MQ alumnis. running MQ store, I c more people, so that helps ! after writing 4 books & newsletters to my customers we connected


Nona Mock Wyman
Ming Quong — Radiant Light
1517 1/2 North Main St
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
   11-6, Mon-Sat
Nona- (925)939-8346




There was a story about a Chinese farmer in the Sung dynasty. He had to carry water daily from the near by river to his house. He had two barrels to catch the water and then carry it home with a pole on his shoulder. The trouble was that one of the barrels had a slow leak so that half of the water was gone when he got home. He tried to fix it but was not successful. As he did this task many times a day, he was very frustreated. After a few days, however, he noticed that flowers and grass began to glow on the path where the water was spilled. He switched the leaky barrel from side to side and created a beautiful pathway. What he did not know is that some of the flowers we see today may have come from the seeds of this farmer.

This is why I believe in the statement:

“What we do in life echoes in eternity, good or bad!”

Today, I want to share with you how people have helped me throughout my life.

When I came to California in 1950, to study in an aircraft mechanic school. I was a typical modern Chinese student. I worshipped science and considered all religions superstitions and crutches were for the weak. My major problem was that my dormitory did not serve food on Sundays. Since I had no means of transportation, I had to walk miles for food.

Then a gracious American lady, Mrs. Grannas, invited me, a stranger, to her home for Sunday dinner with her family. She first picked me up for church, and then we drove to her house for dinner. I did not become a Christian, but I did receive a “certificate of faithful attendance” from the church. I truly appreciated her kindness, and the Sunday dinners were heaven-sent.

Later that year at a Christmas party, she gave me a small Bible. I was very disappointed. I thought I at least rated a tie!  For some strange reason, I kept the Bible with me, though I never read it. I am sure that she was disappointed with me, but six years later, God answered her prayers.

(When I finally did accept Christ, I wrote to Mrs. Grannas to thank her for her kindness many years ago. Unknown to me, she was facing a family crisis at the time and felt she was a failure. My letter encouraged her, and she went to the Philippines and helped run an orphanage! What she did there will echo in eternity! Blessings always boomerang! But I’m getting head of myself.)

My MIT Years

Even though I didn’t believe in God, by a strange change of destiny, I now call a miracle. I was accepted at MIT to study Aeronautics and Astronautics (now called Aerospace Engineering). I was again given a new tomorrow.

Throughout my first five years at MIT, (’51 to ‘56), I was a confirmed atheist. Many Christians tried to witness to me, but none succeeded. I was very 牙刷 (toothbrush – in Cantonese, it means one is a know-it-all, very proud of himself). I was also taught while I was in China, that a man should be 顶天立地 (standing on earth with head hitting the sky).

I was so excited when I arrived at MIT in 1951, I went to the book store (called the COOP) to buy my foot-long slide-rule. (Needed for all scientific calculations; there was no PC or iPad in those days). I clipped the slide-rule on my belt and felt like the newest gunslinger in town! Then the textbooks weighed heavily on my hand. I wondered how I could understand all that… well, one page at a time.

Since I have not taken a formal course in English, I always have problems in spelling and grammar. I wondered how I could complete with all those top students from all the high-class Prep schools.

Fortunately, I was introduced to the FF fraternity by brothers Larry Ho, Billy Lee and others.  I got to know many senior brothers who help guided and encouraged me through the difficult times.

Throughout my first five years at MIT, I held true to my belief that science had all the answers. Many Christians have tried to influence me, but my ego was strong so none succeeded.

In the meantime, different people often gave help to me in my needy hours. I was surprised that most cared for me without demanding anything in return. I often wondered why.

To this day, I am particularly grateful to Mr. C. T. Loo, who provided the   C. T. Loo Fellowship, which allowed me to finish my education.

During my senior year at MIT, I was involved in a minor traffic accident. Without legal representation, the other party’s lawyer literally took me by the feet and shook every penny out of me. I was totally broke. Without the fellowship, I would have had to drop out of school and work as an illegal immigrant!

Some people would say that I won that fellowship in fair competition with other applicants. Nevertheless, I’m truly thankful and indebted to someone—a total stranger —who was willing to give unselfishly of his own resources to empower a needy young man with a “new tomorrow.” Mr. Loo also helped many other students finished their education. Indeed, what he did in life, echoes in eternity!

In graduate school, I discovered a shocking truth: the more I learned, the more I realized that I do not know!  Even today, each new discovery leads me to a deeper mystery.

Though science has made tremendous strides, we are usually stuck when we ask a few basic questions such as:

Q: Why is the grass green?                                                                                                          

A: Because it contains chlorophyll.                                                                                            

Q: Why chlorophyll?      

A: It is needed to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. It is part of our ecosystem.

Q: Why?          

A: It just is.

After earning my master’s degree, I was offered an excellent job in the research department at Honeywell in the aeronautical division in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the first time, I had a good amount of money. I bought a new car, a new stereo system, a TV, a hunting rifle, a shotgun, and everything else a young bachelor would want (all on credit!).

I did well in my work. Yet, my life felt empty. Some unknown things were missing. I was challenged by these questions: What is truth? What makes something right or wrong? What is the meaning and purpose of my life? Is tomorrow just more food and drink and work? I felt like a person all dressed up with no place to go. I hunted for the answer to four important questions:

  1. Is anybody up there?
  2. Does anyone care?
  3. Why am I here?
  4. Where am I going?

My Search for God

As I searched for the answers, I found Sir Isaac Newton was a great scientist and a devout Christian. He was an excellent, part-time preacher. Some people asked him, “Why, when faced with such a wonderful gospel message, do some people still reject God?”

He answered, “Sometimes I’ve absent-mindedly tried to light my candle with the extinguishing cover on. It wouldn’t work. It is not that the candle doesn’t work, but something I did blocked it from lighting.”

Everyone has his own blocker.

My ego was mine. With my education and intelligence, I proudly presumed my intellectual ability probably ranked in the top percentiles of the U.S., if not in the world. Yet the more I studied the beauty and design of nature, the more my own work shrank to insignificance. Being in awe of the complexity of nature, we’re faced with a great dilemma. To say that “nothing” or “time” alone has built the world takes a great deal of faith in “nothing”, a true superstition! (The second law of thermodynamics would also have to be thrown out!)

Many scientists believe we came from “the big bang”, a cosmic accident. But what caused the big bang? Where did all the hydrogen and gravity come from? My questions continued.

Looking at the beauty and wonders of nature, one must ask the question: Are these all evolve from nothing or by “intelligent design”.

Surprisingly, I was introduced to God through the study of babies. When I found God in 1956, I was a bachelor. An older engineer tried to witness to me. I again out-argued him. He threw a book at me and said: “If you are so smart, tell me how this is done!”

It was a book that presented pictures of a baby’s development from week to week prior to birth. Unfortunately, that old book can no longer be found, however, we can get some up to date pictures from Google. In the 9th week, the baby is fully formed, it weighs just one ounce!

From the study of biology, I knew about sperm and egg cells. Once they unite, the fertilized egg cell starts dividing the way all cells do. However, how did some of those cells become the liver, kidneys, brain, skin, and bones?

Furthermore, how does the baby know the correct areas to place these organs in the body and connected them, so they work together properly? Do you know that the baby’s heart starts beating at the fifth week after conception, and there’s no blood yet to pump? We did not know much about genes and DNA in 1956. Today we know much more about them, and yet the mystery deepens. (See “The Language of God” by Dr. Francis S. Collins. Director of NIH (National Institute of Health) – He turned from an atheist to a believer by studying the complexity of the human genes and DNA).

As a scientist and aircraft mechanic, I knew how to build an airplane. One must carefully design it, build the parts, and fit them together carefully. One must connect all the wirings and test them to make sure that they work together.

How does a baby know to do that? Some well-meaning Christian friend told me the Bible says: “We’re wonderfully made.” And then he quoted me the scripture: “For you (God) created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother’s womb” Psalm 139:13. Ha! There must be a scientific answer.

          After much study, I had to admit and said: Lord, “I surrender!”

I got off my high horse and opened my mind to studying the Bible. By chance, (now I call it Divine Providence), I was invited to a Chinese Christian Fellowship meeting by my friend Fred Shaw (Hsiao). CCF was started by an old widow, Mrs. Torjeson. Her husband, a missionary to China, was killed by the Japanese during World War II. Mrs. Torjeson single-handedly and successfully raised four small children while starting this organization. Though she was a slightly built, poor widow, she was a tower of strength. Largely through her efforts and love, and that of others in her organization, I was challenged with questions and found my answers in the Bible.

For example, I discovered my pride was a sin. Yes, I was like an ignorant, prideful man who refused any spiritual instruction, yet all the while, knowing deep down, I knew that I did not have the answers.

Someone once said that the Bible is an acronym for: Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Interesting!

Once I opened my mind and heart, I made my peace with God and started my spiritual journey and adventure. Countless Chinese students from the university also discovered Christianity at the same place. Truly, what Mrs. Torjeson did will echo loudly in eternity!

Recently, I took on an “Almost an Impossible Task”, that of trying to understand how our brain work?

Yes, our brain is one of the most studied subjects in the world. In recent years, we have developed tools that allow us to measure all the activities of the brain and know which part is responsible for what function, yet, we still don’t know how it works. For example: The brain weights less than 4 pounds and yet it uses 20% of our blood. It contains 100 billion neurons, one thousand trillion synapses, more than all the stars in our galaxy! How do they all fit into a 4 pound brain and worked together?  Tell me if you can.

Here are a few simple examples:

1. Our amazing brain (mental integration )

Try this experiment with me: Turn on your TV set and watch a program. Now, block your right eye with a book held a few inches from the right eye that completely blocks out the TV images.

Now open both eyes, you can see right through the book! Amazing!! Now, with both eye open, you can also read the book! How? The brain can integrate and understand the information from both eyes and put the pictures together mentally. Incredible!

Now, try another experiment, put your opened hand in front of your nose and separate your two eyes. You see different pictures with each eye. Yet if you open both eyes, you see the whole picture as if the hand were not there. Amazing! This is called “mental integration.” Your brain or mind can put the two different pictures together as one! And you can judge distance (parallax) as well.

There is a movie called: “The Winning Team” starring Ronald Reagan, before he became our president. It is a story about the famous baseball pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, he was doing very well until he got hit on the head by a baseball and experienced “double vision”. He lost his “mental integration”. He saw two pictures with his eyes and could no longer pitch. Fortunately, he regained his “mental integration” after some rests and was able to finish his wonderful career! If you have not seen this picture, get the DVD or watch it on You-tube. (Co-star with Doris Day!) Well worth watching!         

2. Hunters and prey

Have you ever noticed that animals that are hunters have their eyes in front (e.g.: humans, Lions, tigers, dogs, eagles and owls), while the prey animals (cows horses, deer, birds have their eyes on the side of their heads.)

Side eye placement allows for greater peripheral or side vision. This enables the animal to see predators approaching from the side as well as from behind. That is why it is extremely hard to sneak up on a bird.

It is interesting to note that the birds can see everything (almost 360 degrees) via mental integration, but how do they judge distances? I saw a sparrow flying very fast toward a fence; I thought for sure it would hit it. Yet, when it got close, it flapped its wings backwards and stop and landed on the fence. How does a bird judge distance?  Do you know?

Answer: It does this task by moving its head constantly from side to side or up and down to get depth perception. Amazing!

It is even more amazing to know that all that beautiful flying and coordinated maneuvers are done and controlled by electrical impulses from a little brain no bigger than a bean.

If you have interest in this area, please join me in this research. No one knows yet how our memory and creative thinking work. Share with me your findings. My email is Thank you!


Dr. Lee is a retired rocket scientist. He earned his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from MIT. He worked more than twenty years in the aerospace industry. He was also an engineering professor at the University of California at Irvine. He was listed in Who’s Who in the West 1970– 1971. He has served as chairman and CEO of several companies. He was elected as “Entrepreneur of the Year 2004” by the ABAOC. He wrote several motivational books: “Build the Rainbow of your success”; and many other books,        His latest book is: “Building Smart Kids in Challenging Times”
All are available in

CLICK and BOND, an Enduring Friendship – by Larry Chang – June, 2020

Click and Bond, an Enduring Friendship

My friend and FF Fraternity Brother Billy Lee asked me this question:  “What makes a friendship click and bond for the long haul?”  He added:  “I know you have a lot of experience in inspiring people, young and old, individually and collectively.  How about writing an essay shining light on this topic?”  The way Bro. Billy asked the question made me feel appreciated and gave me a sense of importance, two important criteria to build trusted and lasting friendships.

I will begin by highlighting a few simple principles that I have learned from my 32 years of working at Hewlett Packard.  I will conclude by sharing a recent example of building friendship while mentoring six young professionals during 2018-2019.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the two founders of Hewlett Packard, have instilled in me an important principle, simple to state, but difficult to implement.  That is, think first of the other person.  How do I listen to understand the other person?  How do I respect the other person’s personality rights?  How do I build up the other person’s sense of importance?  How do I give sincere appreciation to others?

To form stronger and more durable relationships at Hewlett Packard, I have also learned to smartly erase the line between “personal” and “professional” relationships.  For professional business relationships, I had to articulate a shared vision, develop ambitious goals, delegate responsibilities, and drive for results.  For personal relationships, I had to be a warm, casual, vulnerable and empathetic human.  This was not about choosing one over the other.  Both were required, at all times.

I have been a volunteer at the Monte Jade Science & Technology Association mentoring young professionals in Silicon Valley since 2009.  Typically we had ten executive mentors, each hosting a small group of 5 to 6 mentees, for an annual class of 50-60 participants.  I asked each of the six mentees from my mentoring group of 2018-19 to research a leadership topic of their choice, and lead a group discussion by sharing examples of successes and failures they have encountered.  I emphasized:  “This is not a presentation.   Rather, you must draw out ideas and comments from the others … and lead a discussion while highlighting their viewpoints.”  I coached them with tips on how to think first of the other person.

Twelve weeks and six discussions later, the results were rather astounding.  Not only did they pick up valuable insights related to the chosen leadership topics, they were clicking and bonding with each other in ways that I had not accomplished in my prior mentoring groups.  They felt like a family wanting to help each other.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I wanted to drive home the importance of erasing the line between “personal” and “professional” relationships.  At this time, they saw me as the respected teacher/mentor, a professional relationship.  Breaking tradition with the other group mentors, I invited my mentees and their spouse to my home celebrating the Christmas holidays.  I requested two things:  Bring your best dish to share.  Wear a pair of socks with an attitude that makes a statement about you.

Again, the results were astounding.  Because I was willing to share my home with them, introduce them to my wife, share my socks with an attitude, and demonstrate our warm, casual and vulnerable behaviors … they responded by clicking and bonding with me and my spouse, and even more with each other.  Their personal stories about their best dishes, and their statements for the choice of socks revealed their warmness, casualness and vulnerability.

The story did not end here.  Six months later we regrouped on a beautiful Saturday and visited three wineries in the Mountains of Santa Cruz.  One year later, four of the six mentees returned to Monte Jade to give back and lead programs for us.

Larry Chang, June 15, 2020

Executive Advisor, Ascend Leadership

Executive Mentor, Monte Jade Science & Technology Assoiciation


THE VIRUS AND OUR LEGACY by Phil Chun – May 31, 2020

The Virus and Our Legacy 

I am a volunteer at Cupertino Senior Center teaching Conversational English to an audience of foreign students. The theme is in the area of conversation, on the virtues of being good to others and developing friendships. Billy and I met a few years back. His very being has always been focused on developing friendships. I admire his on-going love for his fellow man/woman, perhaps that is why we headed off so well. Billy asked me to write a short essay on friendship but I’m going to deviate to Virus and Our Legacy as it seems more natural at this time to think about how Covid-19 is affecting us.

Our lives are defined by time, whether we are gifted with a long or short one, we need to better exploit it. Many of the excuses we’ve all heard in the past have been, I’m too busy or I don’t have the time. Personally I try not to prescribe to those thoughts, rather it is a matter of prioritizing within a busy schedule. Friendshipology as Billy would say, is a state of mind and a way of life. Like any habit, it comes naturally and instinctively. My hope in the aftermath of this virus, is that it will bring all of us and the world closer together.  

The Covid 19 Pandemic has been devastating, particularly to those who have lost a love one or knowing of someone who has. In times of social distancing, shelter in place, work from home, face masks, no dining out, no social gatherings, etc., our way of life literally changed over night. Since mid-March, my classes have been canceled but I still have phone calls with a number of my students. Inevitably, our conversations always come around to how boring and confined life has become. I tell them, circumstances are what they are and we have to set different priorities. Yes, things have changed and we can change as well. We can bring added light to those we love. 

Most of my students are grandparents living with their son’s and daughter’s families. Everyone is home pretty much all day long because of the recent mandate. I tell them, instead of focusing on the negatives of the shelter in place, prioritize your thoughts on the grandchildren and the family unit.  There are no excuses now that we’re too busy or we don’t have time. This is a opportunity for the grandkids to learn more about us as grandparents and our parents – our history. Often times, they think we are just old people who are there to care and cook for them. We have a rich and colorful history to tell; in hopes of someday, they’ll be sharing our story to their very own. With only 1 hour a week, we can help keep us alive for generations to come. Legacy becomes tradition. 

“Every day is unique and special”.


Billy’s notes: I was invited to talk to Phil’s “Senior” students couple of years ago. I noticed that the students held very high respect for Phil as he had well prepared and useful advice for them. As a group, the students interacted very warmly. It seemed more like a friendly social club to me. After the talk, I joined many of them to lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant – sharing food together and sharing laughs.