Alice Chiang, our dear friend and Ladera Neighbor, became 80 years old this Thanksgiving Day, 2023.  Lucille and I were invited to join her Chinese Banquet Lunch Celebration in Midtown San Francisco. As we have both stopped driving a year ago, our No. One Son, Prescott, offered to drive us there from Portola Valley, and our No. Two Son, Gary, was to drive us back with his wife, Marchelle. All five of us went to support the Celebration, for indeed Alice has been a dear old Family Friend. We didn’t want to miss it for any reason.

At the Banquet I presented a short speech – still Lucille, Prescott, Gary, and Marchelle thought it was a shade long. I am quite pleased with my speech however, because it was authentically felt and delivered.  I described how we, indeed, felt about Alice and our relationships by suggesting an adjective for each of the five alphabets from her name A L I C E.  It went like this

A    ADORABLE –  We all truly adore her.

L     LOVING – Her love and caring for us also.

I      INTIMATE – Our Feelings towards each other. Our Deep Bonding.

C     CHRISTIAN – Alice’s Faith and Values. Globally Compassionate.

E     EMERAL – A beautiful Jewel – Beautifully Green forever.

This joyous gathering of Alice’s friends and relatives included John Sieh, Jimmy Hsu, and Billy Lee- sitting together at one table. We three old friends all studied Architecture in U.S. colleges around the same time. We indeed have a special rapport largely due to our common ideal about True and Everlasting Friendships and Yi Chi in Chinese. We truly enjoyed seeing each other again, chatting and laughing together, and even hugging and holding hands lovingly.

From left: Old Friends John Sieh, Jimmy Hsu, & Billy Lee


Maintaining Friendship – Importance of Keeping InTouch

Friendship – Importance of Keeping In Touch – Magic Touches – When, Whom, What, and How ? Approach individuals or Small and Large Groups – Old and New Friends – Widening the Circle – Deepening The Good Feelings. What Gratification! Billy Inquired _________________________________________________________


Maintaining friendships and keeping in touch is indeed crucial for our well-being and personal growth. Here are some thoughts on the importance of keeping in touch, magical touches, and ways to approach individuals or groups:

Importance of Keeping in Touch:

  1. Emotional Support:
  1. Friends provide emotional support during both good and bad times.
  2. Regular communication helps strengthen this support system.
  1. Personal Growth:
  1. Friends can inspire and encourage personal growth.
  2. Sharing experiences and insights can lead to mutual development.
  1. Reducing Isolation:
  1. Regular communication helps combat feelings of isolation.
  2. Knowing that someone cares can have a profound impact on mental health.
  1. Building Trust:
  1. Consistent communication builds trust and deepens the bond between friends.
  2. Trust is the foundation of any strong and lasting friendship.

Magic Touches:

  1. Random Acts of Kindness:
  1. Send unexpected messages of appreciation or encouragement.
  2. Small gestures can have a significant impact.
  1. Surprise Gifts:
  1. Sending surprise gifts or cards shows thoughtfulness.
  2. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; the sentiment matters most.
  1. Celebrating Milestones:
  1. Acknowledge and celebrate your friend’s achievements.
  2. Share in their joy and provide genuine congratulations.
  1. Quality Time:
  1. Sometimes, a simple, quality conversation can be magical.
  2. Be fully present when interacting with your friends.

When, Whom, What, and How?

  1. When to Reach Out:
  1. Regularly check in with friends, even if it’s just a quick message.
  2. Especially during tough times, a simple “How are you?” can make a difference.
  1. Whom to Approach:
  1. Don’t limit yourself to a specific group. Reach out to both old and new friends.
  2. Connect with people who share your interests or values.
  1. What to Share:
  1. Share experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
  2. Be open about your life and encourage your friends to do the same.
  1. How to Approach:
  1. Use a variety of communication methods: texts, calls, video chats.
  2. Tailor your approach to your friend’s preferences and comfort level.

Widening the Circle:

  1. Join Social Activities:
  1. Attend events or groups related to your interests.
  2. This can lead to meeting new people and expanding your circle.
  1. Networking:
  1. Leverage professional networks for both personal and career connections.
  2. Attend meetups or events in your community.

Deepening the Good Feelings:

  1. Express Gratitude:
  1. Regularly express gratitude for your friends.
  2. Let them know how much you value their presence in your life.
  1. Apologize and Forgive:
  1. Be quick to apologize and forgive.
  2. Misunderstandings happen, but resolving them strengthens friendships.
  1. Shared Experiences:
  1. Create and share memorable experiences.
  2. Travel, adventures, or even simple gatherings can deepen bonds.

What Gratification!

  1. Mutual Growth:
  1. Witnessing the growth and success of your friends is immensely gratifying.
  2. Celebrate each other’s achievements and be a source of support.
  1. Meaningful Connections:
  1. Building and maintaining meaningful connections is fulfilling.
  2. It contributes to a sense of belonging and purpose.
  1. Joy in Giving:
  1. The joy of giving, whether through support or shared experiences, is unparalleled.
  2. Knowing you positively impact someone’s life is deeply gratifying.

In conclusion, keeping in touch with friends, both old and new, involves a combination of regular communication, thoughtful gestures, and shared experiences. The gratification comes from the deepening of connections, mutual growth, and the joy found in meaningful friendships.


Billy’s 2023 Thanksgiving Message To His Friends:

Dear All, Again, I wish to express my GRATEFULNESS to you all. For you have TRULY BEEN NICE to me. Wish you All a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING and Have a RELAXED & CHEERFUL Breakfast the Day After. Especially enjoy a cup of Tea or Coffee in your Favorite Mug.

Love, Billy  李名信

Photo from Yale & Andover classmate, Norm Allenby, who told Billy about his son’s memorable playdate years ago. The six-year-old little friend arrived at Allenby’s front door and proclaimed ” Be Nice Me”. Billy has embraced these words as his “Golden Rule” in <>


ChatGPT :

Individuals and groups can have a significant impact on each other, whether it’s for good or harm. Here are some ways in which individuals can affect groups and vice versa in both positive and negative ways:

Positive Effects:

  1. Inspiration and Motivation: Individuals who exhibit positive traits and actions can inspire and motivate others within the group to do good. For example, a leader who demonstrates integrity and altruism can encourage their team members to follow suit.
  2. Collaboration: Individuals can bring diverse skills, perspectives, and ideas to a group, enhancing its ability to achieve common goals. Effective collaboration often leads to better outcomes and innovations.
  3. Skill and Knowledge Transfer: An individual with expertise can share their knowledge and skills within a group, facilitating collective learning and growth. This is particularly valuable in educational settings and workplaces.
  4. Leadership: A capable leader can guide a group toward positive outcomes by setting a clear vision, providing direction, and fostering a sense of unity and purpose.
  5. Amplification of Resources: When individuals pool their resources (such as money, time, or labor) within a group, they can collectively accomplish more good. This can manifest in philanthropy, volunteer work, or community projects.

Negative Effects:

  1. Conflict and Discord: Individuals with differing opinions or conflicting interests can create tension within a group. This discord can lead to infighting, reduced cohesion, and hindered progress.
  2. Groupthink: Groups may pressure individuals to conform to prevailing opinions, stifling creativity and critical thinking. This can lead to poor decision-making and missed opportunities.
  3. Misuse of Power: When individuals within a group hold positions of authority, they can abuse their power, leading to discrimination, oppression, or unethical behavior.
  4. Reinforcement of Negative Norms: If a group collectively adopts harmful behaviors or attitudes, individuals may conform to these norms even if they disagree with them, perpetuating harm.
  5. Resource Drain: In some cases, individuals may exploit group resources for personal gain, causing harm to the collective goals and leaving the group less capable of doing good.

It’s essential to recognize that the relationship between individuals and groups is complex, and the impact can vary depending on context, leadership, and the values and goals of both the individuals and the group. Encouraging positive behaviors and open communication within groups while promoting ethical behavior at the individual level can help maximize the potential for doing good and minimize harm.


BILLY: Please expand more on Encouraging Positive Behaviors while promoting ethical behaviors, Cite examples on HOW.


Encouraging positive behaviors and promoting ethical conduct within groups is crucial for creating a healthy and productive environment. Here are some ways to achieve this, along with examples of how to implement them:

  1. Lead by Example:
  1. Example: In a workplace, a manager can demonstrate punctuality, honesty, and respect for others. When employees see their manager exhibiting these behaviors, they are more likely to follow suit.
  1. Establish Clear Values and Expectations:
  1. Example: A sports team can define its values, such as sportsmanship and teamwork, and communicate these values to all members. Regularly reminding team members of these values reinforces their importance.
  1. Provide Training and Education:
  1. Example: An organization can offer diversity and inclusion training to its employees to raise awareness about bias and discrimination and promote a more inclusive workplace.
  1. Reward and Recognize Positive Behavior:
  1. Example: A classroom teacher can praise students for acts of kindness or for helping their peers. This positive reinforcement encourages students to continue these behaviors.
  1. Create a Supportive Environment:
  1. Example: In a community organization, leaders can ensure that there are channels for reporting unethical behavior, such as a confidential hotline. This empowers members to speak up without fear of retaliation.
  1. Foster Open Communication:
  1. Example: Within a family, parents can create a safe space for children to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. This openness can lead to better understanding and ethical decision-making.
  1. Establish Consequences for Unethical Behavior:
  1. Example: In a professional setting, a company can have a code of conduct and enforce consequences for violations. This discourages unethical behavior and maintains a culture of integrity.
  1. Encourage Collaboration and Empathy:
  1. Example: A non-profit organization working on poverty alleviation can organize team-building activities that require members to work together and understand the challenges faced by those they are trying to help.
  1. Promote Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks:
  1. Example: An academic institution can incorporate ethics courses into its curriculum, teaching students about ethical theories and providing case studies for analysis.
  1. Celebrate Ethical Role Models:
  1. Example: A community can host events or awards to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to ethical causes, inspiring others to follow their lead.
  1. Encourage Feedback and Continuous Improvement:
  1. Example: A software development team can hold regular retrospectives to discuss project performance and identify areas for improvement, including ethical considerations in decision-making.
  1. Institutionalize Ethical Guidelines:
  1. Example: A government agency can establish policies and procedures that prioritize transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct in all its operations.
  1. Seek External Accountability:
  1. Example: A corporation can invite external audits or evaluations of its ethical practices to ensure objectivity and transparency in assessing its adherence to ethical standards.
  1. Promote Social Responsibility Initiatives:
  1. Example: A company can engage in philanthropic efforts, such as donating a portion of profits to charitable causes, demonstrating its commitment to ethical business practices and social good.

These approaches can be adapted to various contexts and organizations, but the common thread is the emphasis on values, communication, education, and accountability to create a culture that encourages positive and ethical behavior within groups.


BILLY : Please define basic ethical values we all need to learn.


Basic ethical values serve as foundational principles that guide individuals and societies in making moral decisions and engaging in ethical behavior. While specific ethical values may vary across cultures and belief systems, there are several universal ethical values that are widely recognized and considered essential for individuals to learn and uphold:

  1. Respect: Treating others with respect means valuing their inherent worth, opinions, and rights. It involves listening to others, acknowledging their perspectives, and refraining from discrimination or harm.
  2. Honesty: Honesty involves telling the truth, being sincere, and avoiding deception or misleading others. It is fundamental for building trust in personal and professional relationships.
  3. Integrity: Integrity means adhering to a strong moral and ethical code, even when it is challenging or inconvenient. It involves consistency in values and actions and not compromising one’s principles for personal gain.
  4. Compassion: Compassion is the ability to empathize with the suffering and struggles of others. It entails a desire to alleviate their pain or offer support and kindness.
  5. Fairness and Justice: Fairness means treating people impartially and equitably, regardless of their background, characteristics, or circumstances. Justice involves upholding principles of fairness in society and ensuring that individuals are held accountable for their actions.
  6. Responsibility: Responsibility entails being accountable for one’s actions and decisions. It involves fulfilling one’s obligations and considering the consequences of one’s choices on oneself and others.
  7. Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of others. It is a crucial component of building meaningful relationships and resolving conflicts.
  8. Caring and Kindness: Caring involves showing concern for the well-being of others and taking actions to help and support them. Kindness is the practice of being friendly, considerate, and helpful in interactions with others.
  9. Tolerance and Acceptance: Tolerance is the willingness to accept differences in beliefs, opinions, and lifestyles without prejudice or discrimination. It promotes diversity and inclusivity.
  10. Courage: Courage involves the ability to confront fear, danger, or challenges in order to do what is morally right or just. It often requires standing up for one’s principles, even in the face of adversity.
  11. Responsible Stewardship: Responsible stewardship is the ethical use and conservation of resources, including natural resources and financial assets, for the benefit of present and future generations.
  12. Environmental Consciousness: This value emphasizes the importance of protecting and preserving the environment for the well-being of all living beings and future generations.
  13. Humility: Humility involves recognizing one’s limitations, admitting when one is wrong, and being open to learning and self-improvement. It fosters a sense of modesty and respect for others.
  14. Forgiveness: Forgiveness is the act of letting go of resentment and the desire for revenge when one has been wronged. It promotes healing and reconciliation in relationships.

These basic ethical values provide a moral compass for individuals and communities, helping to guide ethical decision-making, promote harmonious relationships, and contribute to the well-being of society as a whole. Teaching and promoting these values from an early age can help build a more ethical and compassionate society.


“We Can All Be Friends” – my niece Mimi shared with me her awakening experience at her daughter’s wedding – by Billy Lee – Sept. 2023

Mimi is my favorite niece and she often shares her inner thoughts with me. After her daughter’s unforgettable Camp Zerfas Wedding Celebration a month ago, I asked the mother how she felt.

She basically told me that she had a Happy Awakening.  She started with some concern about the final decision that she was to walk her daughter up the aisle instead of the father, her ex-husband who parted with her when the daughter was only an elementary school child. It was a hurtful experience.

Mimi still had some misgivings when all arrived to celebrate. But things turned out well as the entire atmosphere at the 3-Day Wedding Celebration was full of LOVE, JOY, GOODWISHES and GOODWILL.  I personally believe that we all truly loved Mimi’s daughter, Valarie; and she was the JOY and LOVE that generated our Goodwill, and Good Behavior.

But Mimi’s Awakening indeed happened at the Meditation Session led by Stephen who just became her son-in-law. The Loving-Kindness Meditation asked all participants to focus first on someone who was most loving and kind to them, then try to give the same kind of kindness to someone who they may still hold certain misgivings. Amid a rise of an amazing sense of Happiness and Serenity, Mimi felt empathy for her ex-husband and his present wife. Mimi said silently to herself, “ I forgive. We are all part of Valerie’s life, and we can all be friends.”

Mimi also realizes how fortunate it is that she now has her husband Mike, who loves her and Valorie most genuinely and in a most thoughtful way. Yes, Mike, is also my Best Pal in our Friendshipology Exploration.  He is a modest yet most reliable person.

Mike and Mimi at left warmly shook hands with Ray

– – – – – –  – – –  – — – –  – — – – – – – –  – – — – – – –  – — – – –  —


This is a very revealing and personal story.  I made sure I had Mimi’s consent before sharing it on this Friendshipology site. What I learned from her story is that LOVE, HAPPINESS. CARING & GRATITUDE CAN OVERCOME MANY MISGIVINGS. LOVE, HAPPINESS, CARING & GRATITUDE CAN GROW FROM ONE TO MANY AND ALSO FROM MANY TO ONE.  Thank you, Mimi.  LOVE YOU !



I feel so grateful to my niece, Leti Volpp, who took her precious time to write an article to support my FRIENDSHIPOLOGY INITIATIVE. The word ‘TREAT’ in the title of her article started me thinking more about Us People, Our World, Our Inter-Connectedness – full of Challenges yet full of Hope & Gratitude.

First my thoughts were about Leti. I remember she and her mother came all the way from Princeton, New Jersey, to support the ‘Chinese Children’s Art on Environment Exhibit’ in Washington D.C.. ( Year 2001 ? ). I always think of Leti being sweet, smart, and kind, but I am so moved to learn recently about her deep compassion for Teddy, the dog she brought home – a rescue dog who suffered terrible abuse by humans and lost one leg after someone shot hm. Teddy, a sweet and loving soul, is now hopping around happily as a regular member of Leti’s family.


My thoughts moved on to Leti’s sister, Serena, and Serena & Graciana’s wedding in  Raleigh, N. Carolina ( Jan. 2014 ). It was a multi-day affair and far away from our home in Portola, Valley, Ca., but Lucille and I were determined to go and show our affection for our niece as well as to support a Cause for Justice. We were doubly determined as we learned that Graciana’s home state North Carolina did not allow same-sex marriages.

S&G’s Wedding is one of the most memorable social events we have ever attended. It was full of HOPE & JOY, LOVE & CARING FOR EACH OTHER from a large group of Friends and Relatives coming from far and near to support GENUINE FRIENDSHIP.  That reflected what the NORM of OUR COMMUNITY could and should be.

The joyful spirit was doubly assured by the two Dads. Indeed, Graciana’s Dad, Prof. Lapetina welcomed all the guests to his home for the Sunday Brunch. His home was covered with art objects of different mediums – including many of his own creations –large and small canvasses – multi-mixed colors in abstract – some hanging even on the stair hall ceiling. People with food and drinks moved about most freely. Warm exchanges and laughers occurred in a most Spirited yet Relaxed Atmosphere.

The formal Wedding Ceremony was held on a mid-platform of the Grand Stairway of the North Carolina Museum Of Art in Raleigh, NC.. With music provided by a few personal friends, the Couple walked up to the mid-level. Their cross-commitment was triumphantly enacted, but the remaining steps up the stairs silently reminded me that there were still society’s challenges ahead. Notwithstanding, all of us felt Real Joy and Hopefulness. The personal commitments were Courageous. The very special Inclusive and Interconnected Group Spirit was dearly valued by Each and All of Us.


My thoughts suddenly skipped from the S&G Wedding ( Jan. 2014 ) to Valorie and Stephen Zerfas’ V&S Wedding held at Camp Campbell, Boulder Creek, Ca.     ( Aug. 11-13, 2023 ) – another memorable social event I shall deeply treasure.

The Bride and Groom shared their stories about how they fell in love. They found Love with Trust and the Assuredness that each will make the other a better Human Being.  They carefully planned their wedding with clear intent to inspire their wide circle of Friends and Relatives. They carefully laid out a masterplan that will indeed encourage deeper empathetic interactions. The Wedding Program cheerfully announced: ” Welcome To Camp Zerfas! “

The site was perfect, as the Redwood Forest in Boulder Creek, Ca, provided a Sense of Awe.  The log-cabin type structures large and small commanded different spaces. The main lodge was more formal, and the sleeping cabins intentionally zig-zagged and entangled to encourage campers to manage new twists in life.

To induce Friendly Connecting, games fitting the natural environment were introduced.  Ping Pong, Volley Ball, Grouping in Circles, Adventures in the Woods, etc., etc..  ‘Climbing Over The Wall’, a team competition was the most challenging and meaningful.

How people Care For or Treat one another as well as oneself seemed to be the Awareness the newlywed couple wanted to share with their Families and Friends. At the Celebration Dinner on Saturday Evening, each table was decorated with flowers, one of either Val’s or Stephen’s childhood pictures, and two or three mind-opening books. I shamelessly grabbed two books: “ Right Concentration- A Practical Guide to the Jhanas “ and “ Super Thinking “. Mentioned in “ Right Concentration “, is a section on Metta Meditation or “ Loving-Kindness Meditation “. Sunday morning Stephen conducted a Guided Meditation.  My two sons both told me that they felt the effects.

Personally. I was most grateful to have met Stephen’s Mom and Dad. Monica and Jeff and Grandma Pat. We warmly reached out to each other. There was instant rapport and affection miraculously. We are now one Big Family.

I deeply admire Valerie and Stephen’s commitment to each other with Love and Joyfulness and to help each other to be a Better Person. I must also thank them for sharing this Caring Spirit with all of us who were there to celebrate with them, on this glorious August weekend. My Best Wishes to Camp Zerfas !


HOW THE LAW TREATS FRIENDSHIP by Prof. Leti Volpp – September 2023

A legal scholar named Laura Rosenbury, who recently became president of Barnard College, authored a fascinating article on the law and friendship. I was drawn to share this article with Friendshipology readers both because of its merits and because in college Laura Rosenbury and my sister Serena were friends!

Rosenbury’s article was published in the Michigan Law Review in 2007. What follows is drawn from the article, which bears the eye-catching title, “Friends with Benefits?” Any reader who would like to access the entire article may find it here:

The article’s focus is family law, which is the field of law that addresses who may constitute families recognized by the state, as well as the privileges and responsibilities of those family members.

Rosenbury notes that family law has long ignored friendship. As she writes, family law recognizes marriage, but is silent with respect to friendship, dividing marriage from “mere” friendship. This silence suggests that friendship is thought to differ significantly from marriage or marriage-like relationships; friendship is presumed to be properly outside the consideration of family law. Yet, argues Rosenbury, such a difference may not conform to actual lived experience. Note as well, that our lived reality is shaped by the fact of legal recognition informing us which relationships are important and which are secondary, such as marriage (important) versus friendship (secondary) – although, of course, some choose to live in defiance of state-sponsored norms. Even with the lack of legal validation of friendship, for many people, their friends constitute their chosen family.

As Rosenbury points out, family law’s focus on marriage to the exclusion of other relationships can lead people to prioritize that one relationship – a comprehensive domestic relationship which is favored in all kinds of legal arrangements – over others. If individuals want the state to recognize a relationship with other adults, they typically need to either get married or enter into a relationship which seems to mirror marriage, such as a domestic partnership.

Rosenbury argues that the divide between marriage and friendship is not gender neutral (and, until the recognition of same-sex marriage, would also be described as not neutral as to sexuality). If we think back in time, it is clear that legal recognition of marriage provided governmental support to the kind of domestic caregiving that was necessary to patriarchy which made the man the head of the household. And we know that domestic caregiving still follows gendered patterns today. Unlike in marriage, friendship does not consistently demand the same amount of unevenly gendered care work. As Rosenbury observes, friendships are not presumed to be exclusive or comprehensive. Friendships are also presumed to embrace norms of equality and autonomy over norms of domestic dependency. Friendships, in fact, may constitute a much more appealing form of human relationship than marriage.

Rosenbury would like to see the law recognize friendships. Such legal recognition would potentially lead to the structuring of life free from state-supported gender role expectations. We could imagine the law recognizing multiple forms of personal relationships between adults, providing governmental support for different sources of care. Why not accord friendship the same legal standing as marriage?

The idea of legally recognizing friendship has gained a bit of traction in another country – Canada. As my UC Berkeley colleague – and friend! – Sarah Song shares in her important book Immigration and Democracy (2018), available here: 9780190909222?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp; a Canadian commission recognized friendship as deserving the same legal status as familial relationships, in the context of immigration sponsorship.

As Song writes, In the report of the 1997 Canadian Immigration Legislative Review Advisory Group’s report, “Not Just Numbers: A Canadian Framework for Future Immigration,” appears the recommendation that Canada open its immigration system to recognize relationships among friends. In addition to citizens being able to sponsor their spouses, dependent children, fiancé(e)s, parents, and grandparents, the citizen sponsor would be allowed “to decide who is most important to them, and who is part of what they consider family in the broadest sense. It could even include a best friend.” A 2001 Canadian Law Commission report, titled “Beyond Conjugality,” endorsed this recommendation to establish “a system that allowed for self-selection beyond ties of blood and marriage” and “would significantly advance the value of choice or autonomy, at the same time as it would respect the diversity and equality of close personal relationships.” Sadly, the Canadian government has yet to adopt this recommendation.

However, as Song notes, Canada did permit two best friends to become co-parents in 2017. Natasha Bakht and Lynda Collins, who are best friends but not lovers or “conjugal” partners, were legally recognized as co-parents to Bakht’s biological son, Elaan. Collins had become a caregiver to Elaan and was Bakht’s closest confidant. See “How Two Friends Fought to Be Legal ‘Co-Mommas’ to a 7-Year-Old Boy—and Won,” CBC Radio, “The Current,” July 17, 2017,

In short, the law has largely failed to recognize friendship. It is arguably time for this to change, given the importance of friendship, attested to by one and all in Friendshipology.


Leti Volpp is the Robert D. and Leslie Kay Raven Professor of Law in Access to Justice at Berkeley Law, and also serves as Director of the campus-wide Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. She is grateful to be the niece of Lucille and Billy Lee and for the friendship they have supported among the many members of their extended family.


Introducing Friendshipology, Editor Allyson Irish’s Article ” Not For Self – For Others ” In Andover.Edu.News Instantly Sparked Rippling Chit-chats Among Andover Friends – September 2023


It’s been 72 years since Norm Allenby, Bob Doran, George Rider, and Billy Ming-Sing Lee were together on the Andover campus. The four boys enjoyed their high school years immensely, developed strong relationships, and came to appreciate the school’s values of non sibi, knowledge and goodness, and youth from every quarter.

Despite time and distance, the men have continued to carry forth Andover’s values, and none more so than Ming-Sing Lee, whose Friendshipology blog has grown from a fun hobby into a passion project that he hopes to share with the Andover community and beyond.

On a recent Zoom call, the men reminisced about high school. “We studied hard, and we played hard,” Allenby says. Their fondness for Andover and for one another was apparent, as was their friendship, which has grown considerably over the years.

“We all recognize that our time at Andover was formative,” says Allenby. “And we have deepened our Andover friendships as adults.”


“What does friendship mean? How can we be better friends?

Why is friendship important? These questions so fascinated

Ming-Sing Lee that he decided to create a blog in 2019.”


Friendshipology is a bilingual (English and Chinese) blog highlighting thought-provoking, timely, and topical issues written by Ming-Sing Lee and guest authors. It shares a philosophy of life that endorses kindness, empathy, and—of course—friendship.

“I believe every one of us has a good heart,” says Lee, a retired architect who lives in California. “I started this blog focusing on friendship because it seemed to me that the world was falling apart in some ways. There were too many misunderstandings and confrontations.”

Billy Ming-Sing Lee ’51 wears a “Be Nice Me” sweatshirt. The saying has become something of a slogan for the group ever since classmate Norm Allenby’s young son had a playdate with a friend who used the phrase before coming into the house. “I think that’s it, that’s what we all really want, need, or should try to follow as Our Golden Rule,” Ming-Sing Lee says.

Friendshipology—and the conversations it has sparked—turned out to be the antidote to this negativity.

“Billy provides words of wisdom, words to live by,” says Doran. “And this is totally consistent with my feelings for Andover.”

By sharing knowledge and goodness, Friendshipology inspires others to pay it forward by showing more empathy, compassion, and love to friends and family, even to strangers.

“My father used to say, ‘Friendship is the finest ship that sails,’” Rider quips. “My four years at Andover were the defining years of my life. Sharing the educational experience and the trials and tribulations of maturing with classmates has left an indelible imprint on me.”

The Friendshipology project is a manifestation of what Billy Ming-Sing Lee ’51 and other alumni have learned at Andover and how they choose to live in the world.

Do you have a story about friendship that has endured and strengthened over the years? Please share it! Email


Rippling Chit-Chat Began The Following Week – Letter from Mme. Sarah Randt – wife of US Ambassador to China, Clark T. Randt Jr. – to Billy:

Dear Billy,

WE KNOW BOB DORAN!  We have dined several times with Happy and Bob in Naples.

Bob tells good stories and is very sincere.  

Not sure if you know, also, that our son, Paull Randt,

Went to Andover and very much appreciated his education there. 

He was captain of the swim team and 

put on a Chinese art exhibition. After taking all the Chinese

classes offered, Paull studied Russian in his senior year and continued 

his Russian language studies at Yale. 

 Paull left Citibank and is now at the U.S. Treasury and loves it.

Keep up your Friendshipology work!  Fondly Sarah


Billy Cheerfully Reported to Bob Doran The Next Day :

Hi Bob,

Just learned that the Randts know you  and Happy, and think highly of you. Cheers ! 

See Sarah’s note below. Sarah was the Honorary Co-Chair of The 1990 Institute’s

“Heart to Heart Bridging between US and China’s Children via Art and Environment”,

which Billy Ming Sing coordinated.

Regards to Happy, Love,




BILLY: Please provide at least 8 different examples on why the same item does not work in different places or situations, like cash, jokes, ideals, independent core values etc…


Certainly, here are eight examples of why the same item or concept may not work effectively in different places or situations:

  1. Currency (Cash): The same amount of cash may not work in different countries due to differences in currency values. For example, $100 might buy you a lot in a developing country but very little in an expensive city like New York.
  2. Jokes: Humor is highly context-dependent. A joke that’s hilarious among close friends might fall flat in a formal business meeting due to differences in tone and appropriateness.
  3. Ideals: Ideals like democracy or freedom can be interpreted and applied differently in various cultures. What works as a model of democracy in one country might not function as effectively in another due to differences in political, cultural, and historical contexts.
  4. Independent Core Values: Personal values, like independence, may clash with the values of a group or organization. An individual’s strong desire for independence may lead to conflict in a highly collaborative work environment.
  5. Language: The same phrase or word can have entirely different meanings or connotations in different regions or communities. For instance, slang or idiomatic expressions may not translate well across languages.
  6. Technology: A piece of technology that works well in one climate might not function optimally in another. Electronics designed for temperate climates may struggle in extremely hot or cold environments.
  7. Educational Strategies: Teaching methods that are effective for one group of students may not work for another with different learning styles or abilities. What works for high-achieving students might not be suitable for those with learning disabilities.
  8. Cultural Norms: Social norms and behaviors that are acceptable in one culture might be considered rude or offensive in another. For instance, the way people greet each other can vary widely, and what’s considered polite eye contact differs from one culture to another.

These examples illustrate how the same item or concept can encounter challenges or limitations when applied in different places or situations due to variations in context, culture, values, and expectations.


BILLY: Please enlighten us more about the challenges and limitations you mentioned above, and advise how best to manage such situations.

ChatGPT replied :

Certainly, let’s delve deeper into the challenges and limitations presented by the scenarios mentioned earlier and discuss strategies for managing them effectively:

  1. Currency (Cash):
  1. Challenge: Currency exchange rates can fluctuate, impacting the value of cash in different places. Additionally, not all places accept foreign currencies.
  2. Management: Before traveling or conducting international transactions, research and stay updated on exchange rates. Use local currency whenever possible, and consider carrying a small amount of cash in both your home currency and the local currency.
  1. Jokes:
  1. Challenge: Humor is subjective, and what’s funny to one person might not be to another. Inappropriate jokes can also offend or harm relationships.
  2. Management: In diverse settings, opt for inclusive and light-hearted humor, avoiding sensitive or controversial topics. Pay attention to the cultural and social context, and be prepared to adapt or apologize if a joke falls flat or causes discomfort.
  1. Ideals:
  1. Challenge: Different societies have varying interpretations of ideals like democracy, freedom, and justice. Implementing these ideals can be complex and context-dependent.
  2. Management: Engage in open dialogue to understand the perspectives and expectations of the local context. Collaborate with local stakeholders to adapt the ideal to the specific situation while respecting cultural nuances.
  1. Independent Core Values:
  1. Challenge: Individual core values can clash with group or organizational values, leading to conflicts or dissonance.
  2. Management: Communicate your values transparently but be willing to compromise when necessary, especially in team settings. Seek common ground and align personal values with the overarching goals of the group or organization.
  1. Language:
  1. Challenge: Words and phrases can have unintended meanings or may not convey the intended message in different languages.
  2. Management: When communicating across languages, use simple and clear language. Seek assistance from local interpreters or translators when needed to avoid misunderstandings.
  1. Technology:
  1. Challenge: Technology designed for specific environments may not perform well in extreme conditions.
  2. Management: Choose technology appropriate for the intended environment. Use protective measures like climate-controlled storage or ruggedized equipment where necessary to extend the lifespan and functionality of technology.
  1. Educational Strategies:
  1. Challenge: Students have diverse learning needs and abilities, and a one-size-fits-all teaching approach may not be effective.
  2. Management: Implement flexible teaching strategies that cater to diverse learning styles. Provide additional resources and support for students with varying needs, such as tutoring or accommodations.
  1. Cultural Norms:
  1. Challenge: Violating cultural norms can lead to misunderstandings or offense.
  2. Management: Research and respect local cultural norms. When in doubt, observe and ask questions to understand acceptable behaviors. Adapt your actions and communication accordingly.

In all these scenarios, effective management involves adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and a willingness to learn from and engage with local perspectives. Cross-cultural communication and collaboration skills are crucial for navigating these challenges successfully. When in doubt, seek advice or guidance from local experts or colleagues who are familiar with the specific context to help ensure smooth interactions and outcomes.



BILLY: To patch up injured sensitivity and pride please suggest intelligent ways to redeem good feelings.


Recovering from injured sensitivity and pride can be a challenging but essential process for personal growth and well-being. Here are some intelligent ways to help you heal and regain your emotional balance:

  1. Self-Reflection: Start by taking some time to reflect on the situation that hurt your sensitivity and pride. What triggered these feelings? Were your expectations reasonable? Self-awareness is the first step in understanding and addressing your emotions.
  2. Accept Your Feelings: It’s okay to feel hurt or sensitive in response to certain situations. Don’t judge yourself for having these emotions; instead, acknowledge them and accept that they are a part of your human experience.
  3. Seek Perspective: Talk to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist about your feelings. They can offer valuable insights and different perspectives on the situation, which can help you see it from different angles.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend in a similar situation. Self-compassion involves recognizing that everyone makes mistakes and has moments of vulnerability.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations: Reevaluate your expectations and consider whether they were realistic. Adjusting your expectations can help prevent future disappointments and hurt feelings.
  6. Learn from the Experience: Every challenging situation is an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Consider what you can learn from this experience about yourself, your boundaries, and your needs.
  7. Forgive and Let Go: Holding onto grudges or resentment can prolong your suffering. Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning someone’s actions; it means releasing the emotional grip the situation has on you.
  8. Develop Resilience: Strengthen your emotional resilience by practicing mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation techniques. These can help you manage your emotions better and bounce back from setbacks.
  9. Build Self-Confidence: Rebuild your pride and self-esteem by focusing on your strengths and achievements. Set small, achievable goals to regain your confidence.
  10. Engage in Self-Care: Take care of your physical and emotional needs. Ensure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  11. Learn Effective Communication: Enhance your ability to express your feelings and needs in a healthy way. Learning effective communication skills can help you navigate future conflicts more constructively.
  12. Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect your sensitivity and pride. Communicate these boundaries to others assertively but respectfully.
  13. Practice Gratitude: Cultivate a sense of gratitude for the positive aspects of your life. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for can shift your perspective and boost your overall well-being.
  14. Time and Patience: Healing takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself. Understand that recovery is a process, and it’s okay to have setbacks along the way.
  15. Professional Help: If you find it challenging to recover on your own or if your feelings are severely impacting your life, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific situation.

Remember that healing is a journey, and it’s normal to have ups and downs. Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need to recover fully.


Billy :   How about patching up the other person’s sensitivity ?


To repair or mend someone else’s sensitivity after you may have inadvertently hurt their feelings or pride. Here are some intelligent and empathetic ways to do that:

  1. Acknowledge Your Actions: Start by acknowledging what you said or did that hurt the other person’s sensitivity. Take responsibility for your actions or words.
  2. Apologize Sincerely: Offer a heartfelt apology. Express genuine remorse for causing them pain or distress. Avoid making excuses or justifying your actions. Say something like, “I’m truly sorry for how my words/actions affected you.”
  3. Listen Actively: Give the person your full attention and let them express their feelings. Be a good listener and refrain from interrupting or becoming defensive. Show empathy and understanding by saying things like, “I want to understand how you’re feeling.”
  4. Empathize: Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand their perspective. Empathize with their emotions, even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint.
  5. Ask How You Can Make Amends: Ask the person how you can make things right or what you can do to help them feel better. This shows that you genuinely care about their feelings and are committed to repairing the relationship.
  6. Give Them Space: Sometimes, people need time and space to process their emotions. Respect their need for space if they request it.
  7. Avoid Repeating the Mistake: Demonstrate that you’re committed to not repeating the behavior that hurt them. This might involve changing your actions or words in the future.
  8. Educate Yourself: If your actions were due to a lack of understanding or awareness, take the initiative to educate yourself about the subject matter or sensitivity involved. This shows a willingness to grow and learn.
  9. Be Patient: Healing takes time, and the person may not immediately bounce back to their normal self. Be patient and give them the time they need to recover.
  10. Maintain Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with the person periodically to see how they’re doing and whether there’s anything else you can do to help.
  11. Seek Mediation (If Necessary): If the situation is particularly complex or if there’s ongoing tension, consider involving a mediator or counselor to facilitate a constructive conversation.
  12. Offer Support: Show your support by being there for the person in other ways. Offer to help with tasks or simply be available to spend time together if they’re open to it.
  13. Learn and Grow: Use the experience as an opportunity for personal growth and to improve your communication and empathy skills. Demonstrating personal growth can be reassuring to the other person.

Remember that mending someone else’s sensitivity takes time and effort, and it may not always lead to a complete resolution. The key is to approach the situation with empathy, sincerity, and a commitment to making amends.



ChatGPT :
Turning demeaning insults into acceptable humorous situations often involves using wit, cleverness, and a good sense of humor. Here are some examples of intelligent ways to do this:

  1. Self-Deprecation: When someone insults you, agree with them in an exaggerated, humorous way that shows you don’t take yourself too seriously.
  1. Insult: “You’re so slow!”
  2. Response: “Yeah, I’m the world’s slowest ninja. They call me ‘Sloth-fu.'”
  1. Sarcasm: Respond to insults with exaggerated sarcasm to highlight the absurdity of the comment.
  1. Insult: “You’re such a genius, aren’t you?”
  2. Response: “Oh, absolutely! I’m practically a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Awesomeness.”
  1. Misinterpretation: Pretend to misunderstand the insult and twist it into something harmless.
  1. Insult: “You’re a complete mess!”
  2. Response: “Thank you! I’ve always aspired to be a masterpiece of chaos.”
  1. Deflection with a Compliment: Respond to insults with a compliment to disarm the insulter and create a positive atmosphere.
  1. Insult: “You’re so weird.”
  2. Response: “Thank you! I take ‘weird’ as a compliment; it means I’m one-of-a-kind.”
  1. Playful Agreement: Play along with the insult while adding a humorous spin.
  1. Insult: “You’re a walking disaster.”
  2. Response: “Indeed! I’m like a tornado of clumsiness leaving a trail of laughter behind.”
  1. Humorous Comparison: Compare yourself to something funny or absurd to downplay the insult.
  1. Insult: “You’re hopeless.”
  2. Response: “Hopeless? Nah, I’m like a broken GPS in a corn maze – entertainingly lost.”
  1. Create an Alter Ego: Respond with humor by creating an imaginary character that embodies the insult.
  1. Insult: “You’re such a nerd.”
  2. Response: “True, I have a secret life as Captain Calculus, defender of the Math Realm!”
  1. Redefine the Insult: Take control of the insult by redefining it in a humorous way.
  1. Insult: “You’re a know-it-all.”
  2. Response: “I prefer ‘Fountain of Fun Facts’ – it has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”
  1. Absurd Acknowledgment: Acknowledge the insult in a way that exaggerates it to the point of absurdity.
  1. Insult: “You’re so lazy.”
  2. Response: “I’m so lazy, I once tried to remote control my TV with a stick from the couch.”
  1. Wordplay: Use wordplay and puns to reframe the insult in a humorous light.
  2. Insult: “You’re a real pain.”
  3. Response: “I prefer to think of myself as an ‘occasional discomfort enthusiast.'”

Remember, the key to using humor to deflect insults is to keep it light-hearted and not escalate the situation further. Your goal is to disarm the insulter and bring positivity into the interaction.

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One September evening (Year1980), while walking home along West 79th Street, from Broadway to Central Park West in New York City, I was just reflecting what was going on in our world, shockingly a black youth abruptly came behind me and kicked me in the rear- yelling “Go Home Chinaman !”. I looked at him for a second and yelled back, “Hey, that’s a pretty powerful kick. You must be a great soccer player. You play Soccer ? I like to play with you. Can I ?” He did not know how to respond to me; waved his arm and left.