” Multiculturalism – a Metaphor ” by James Luce – May 30, 2021

Have you given much thought to a beautiful beach ?

When the average person without any geological training is standing on the shore they see a beach, a wide and long expanse of undifferentiated sand.  The beach in this metaphor represents all the thousands of cultures in the world. The geologist is a metaphoric multiculturalist expert.

         If a geologist asks the person to describe what they’re looking at, the response will be “a bunch of sand”.  If asked whether they see anything in particular about the sand, they will note that there are different colors of sand. If pressed for more details, they may suggest the existence of different textures of sand. Pressed harder, they may even mention the fact that not all the grains of sand are identical in size and that there are bits and pieces of things on the beach that aren’t sand.

         Never will they observe that each single grain of sand is unique. The chemical and mineral composition; the origin of each grain; the age of each grain; the shape and reflectance of each grain are all slightly different. However, one grain is no better than the other. One is no better at building the beach than any other. Yet each grain collectively gives the beach its own character. Some beaches are all black or even green. Some are permanent, some temporary. All these differences are to be observed in all our cultures, past and present and most likely future.

         The problem is that unless prodded, people generally just see a beach, their beach, the perfect beach, the only beach the world needs…rather than understanding that their beach is really an amalgam of billions of grains of sand from around the world. When they see “their” beach, they do not understand that what they’re looking at is the world’s beach. Their beach is in fact the result of many thousands of years of cultural change, exchange, and experimentation.

         To walk along a beach is to take those first steps of a thousand li journey across time and space. Some of the grains of sand will irritatingly get clogged between your toes. Sand flies, blood worms, and deer ticks add to the discomfort. Yet the journey overall is one of pleasant discovery…if one ignores all the irritations. The uniqueness of each grain of sand is forgotten in the general joy of being alive on this planet while being caressed by a gentle wind and a soft sun…just as everybody everywhere from all cultures experiences walking along the world’s beach.

The End


BILLY’s COMMENTs: What I admire most about my dear friend and old colleague from The 1990 Institute Board is that he always thinks as broadly and deeply as about Black Holes, but somehow always relevant to our hearts and our humanity. I love especially many of his poems and shorter essays.


Introducing My Good Friend, Linda Tsao Yang at the FF Fraternity Zoom, Thursday May 20, 2021 – by Billy Lee

Linda Tsao Yang 2016

My dearest older cousin, Millie Yung, and Sister Linda were friends at St. Johns University, Shanghai. Linda was Ms. Linda TSAO then, so I would cheerfully address her “TSAO GA JIA JIA“ in Shanghainese.

Since Yuelin Yang became a FF Brother, his Mother naturally became my “YANG GA MM MA”. But, by FF Fraternity’s simplistic logic “ All immediate female relatives are “FF. SISTERS”.  So in FF circles, she automatically became my “Sister Linda”.

But since Sister Linda is my most admired old friend and colleague from The 199O Institute, I sometimes salute her “ AMBASSADOR YANG “ for her prominent role as the U.S. Ambassador at the ADB (Asian Development Bank – appointed by President Bill Clinton – 1993-1999 ).


I first want to take this opportunity to thank “Sister Linda” who in 2003 helped arrange an opportunity for me to visit UC Davis’s Mondavi Center for Performing Arts ( one of the best acoustical chambers in the U.S. ) – as I was trying to persuade Ningbo University ( Ningbo is my ancestral home ) to build a First Class Music Center.

“Sister Linda” treated me graciously with her delicious home-cooking at her home in Davis. To this day, I still remember her succinct advices, her warmth, her fantastic Chinese paintings on the walls, and an unusually large and beautifully bonded book titled: “SUN TZE BING FA. ( The Art of War ).  I was profoundly impressed.


Many of us already know about Sister Linda’s many spectacular achievements. They were mostly mentioned in the FF Announcement for this FF Strong Town Hall Zoom.

However, I think we all want to learn HOW she accomplished WHAT she did, and from Where came her MAGIC ?

I would first examine why she was awarded the “Distinguished Service Medal” by the U.S Department Treaury and the “Honorary Citizen & City’s Favorite Daughters Award” by Shanghai’s People’s Congress.

It had been explained that the “Distinguished Service Award” was for her steering the bank towards policies and practices which made development assistance more equitable, and enduring, and her key role in defining the bank’s participation in the international response to the Asian Economic Crisis of 1997-98.  

The  Shanghai “Honorary Citizen Award”- was for her bringing international technology and standards in water quality management to the Suzhou Creek environmental cleaning and revitalizing Project – most beneficial to China and to Shanghai, her Ancestral Home.

It seems to me, to accomplish what she did required: first having deep purpose and foresight / then ability to analyze complex problems – technically, economically, and diplomatically / optimizing and prioritizing various opportunities / providing persuasive policy ideas and plans / and finally leveraging her personal integrity, credibility, and charm. I think the last aspect may be the most unique about Sister Linda that we should learn from her.

Indeed, at this Zoom gathering, we can learn a lot by LISTENING closely to WHAT Sister Linda has to say, and WATCH closely on HOW she tells her stories.  I would pay close attention to her VERBAL & FACIAL EXPRESSIONS.

If we seriously wish to learn from her, we must watch her Manners and Composure and capture her Inner Spirit : her Compassion, her Dedication, her Optimism, her Constant Striving, her Pride & Modesty, and her unique Shanghai Sentimentality.

Now, Let us Watch and Listen Closely to Sister Linda.

Welcome, Sister Linda !



Why she sings ?

What she sings ?

How she sings.

Learn from her Songs

Learn from her High and Low Voice Control

Watch her eyes, lips, and body movements

Catch her Passion – Style – Effects

Confidence – Trustfulness – Optimism.

Totally void of Pretense & Arrogance !



Mike Crisp and wife Leslie in Ladera, Portola Valley, Ca. Bio : Born in Kentucky. Raised in upstate NY. Colgate University graduate (Philosophy), Officer in U.S. Coast Guard, Editor-in-Chief, McGraw-Hill College Division, VP and Publisher, Science Research Associates (IBM), Chairman and CEO Crisp Learning. 



A few months ago I wrote an article for our local community newsletter featuring Billy Lee and his family. Part of the article focused on Billy’s website Friendshipology.net. In reading several of the blogs on his site, I became intrigued by the concept of friendship; what it was, how it occurred and why it was so important. Following are some of my thoughts on friends. 

What Are Friends? 

I think they are someone that you can rely on to be honest with you. Individuals that you trust. People you can laugh and or cry with. A person that can provide empathy and comfort. And someone you enjoy sharing experiences with. Friends are also those who can teach you about new things, including cross cultural customs and lifestyles.

Types of Friends  

Friends come from a variety of sources. There are childhood friends; school friends; work and or military service friends; family friends and friends of the family; couple friends; casual friends; neighborhood friends; old friends and new friends; and finally best friends. 

Making Friends  

The most important thing in making friends is that the process should be natural – not forced. Friends are individuals that you enjoy being with. Often friends will have a shared interest. A friend is someone you look forward to seeing regardless of how much time has passed since your last interaction. Making friends requires follow-up and communication. It also should mean that you care about your friends well being. 

Keeping Friends  

My wife is especially good about making and keeping friends. In thinking about how this works, I have noticed that in addition to showing an interest in the other person and being a good listener, she often follows up with a phone call, text message or letter to let her friends know they are in her thoughts. True friends are those who connect with you in good times or bad. True friends value your opinions.  

The Importance of Friends 

My Dad often said, “there is no honor in being the richest person in the cemetery”.  As we age and experience ups and downs, it becomes increasingly apparent how important friends are. Much more important than money or possessions. More important than social status. I believe the best marriages are based on friendship. In conclusion, friends are perhaps the most important element in this thing called life.   


BILLY’S COMMENTS : Mike and Leslie have been our old friends and neighbors in Ladera since early 1980s, We actually got acquainted on the Ladera Tennis Courts. I remember Mike had a very strong forehand strike and ran like a basketball forward for every ball conceivable. Leslie was definitely one of the steadiest players in our group. Everyone wanted to partner with her at our famous July 4th Ladera Doubles Tennis Socials.


“HOW DOES OUR COMMUNITY INDUCE FRIENDSHIP & BONDING ?” ( Question by Billy to Di Gow and Linda Fornaciari at Ladera, Portola Valley, Ca. – Nov. 2020

Di and Linda did a mini-survey among a number of long-time Ladaera residents and summarized their findings below :

From Lennie Roberts :

Hi Di, This is a bit tangential to Billy’s questions, but I think our community spirit is rooted in the vision of the Founders who formed the original Cooperative. The early days had people sharing lots of resources. When we moved here in 1965, there were monthly square dancing nights with a live caller – for all ages and abilities – at the school multi-purpose room.  In the 1970’s the “lady Managers” organized a great variety of summer arts and crafts, and fun sports activities for kids of all ages. Lowell Johnson organized Movie Nights there as well- geared primarily to the kids,
But adults used to go too.
All of these have kept evolving, and I never fail to be impressed by the LRD’s key role in the community, and every issue of the Crier which knits our neighborhoods together in myriad ways.

 From Noel Hirst :
Thank you for asking this question. Friendship in Ladera is the ability to create your village, that group of people that comes together to support each other’s families, children, neighbors with words of wisdom, actions, caring acts of kindness. I takes a village and we create our special village in Ladera.
No matter how long it has been since you have seen a neighbor, you pick up where you left off and have shared knowledge of the community and experiences.
The Ladera community creates and nurtures a desire to volunteer and support the community, community events, and each other’s causes.
The goodness in our community drives us to want to see one another, to gather on our blocks, at events, or at the shopping center to chat, to catch up, socialize. Many other neighborhoods do not have this draw to meet and greet new and long time neighbors.
We have comradery at our neighborhood events. We have fun with our local friends. Ladera has a special shared vibe of connectedness.
Craig and I do believe that he Rec Center is a major draw that helps to build these connections, as it is where you meet much of the neighborhood when you first move here. However, the spirit or vive allows you to be connected even if you are not a Rec visitor. You can connect on your block, and on the paths. ( See Billy’s comments regarding paths )now
From Conversation with Another Longtime Resident :
She said she didn’t want to respond in writing because she felt that the “Newcomers” make no effort to be friends with the “Longtimers”. She says every time she has new neighbors, she brings them cookies or does something to welcome them, but never feels like they ever respond or reach out in friendship which she thinks is so much different than when she moved here 50 years ago.

Overall Observation:
On many Ladera streets and cul de sacs, there is still good interaction between the old and the young neighbors.  But clearly people today seem to be much more preoccupied than before.
Billy’s Comments:
As a student of Architecture and Planning, I learned that this hillside community of approximately 540 families now was cleverly planned with basically “the main loops with stings of cul de sacs attached”. The concept is very much like that of Yale University’s Residential College System.  The smaller colleges allow the development of more intimate relationships, yet they are pulled together by the centralized library and athletic facilities. Furthermore, an unique Ladera Pedestrian Trail System, crisscrossing the entire property, has allow neighbors to take short cuts – favorite pathways for imaginative children, especially.