May 28 2018

Mini OHS Reunion Recalls My Infamous Stunt

Published by under Uncategorized

As told to GKB:

Thanks Gail for sharing the news sad as it is. I will send Linda a card. I’m sure Craigs passing didnt help Joan. I will look for memorial link u sent. Thanks. How appropriate all this on Memorial Day.  

Sorry that Jan is not doing better but anyone who makes it to 97 is amazing…just hope she is not in pain and you still can have good moments with your mom. By the way belated Happy Mothers Day.

I meant to write last week after having mini OHS reunion with friends I hadn’t seen since high school.Roger Wong and Craig Lim. ALSO my good friends Glen Wong and Steve Wong and Jim Yee And Spencer Leslie and Ted Dangwho I had seen seen many times.. we spent about 3 hour reminiscing getting along well at Elios Rest. SAN leandro. Highlight was Rogers recall of my infamous portrayal as an Egyptian foreign exchange student accompanied by Tom R and Frank D in their English class where I filibustered about 30 minutes telling of my days growing up in Egypt, everyone knowing my lie except naive teacher. I think I’ve told u about this before. Roger claimed it was the highlight of his high school days, hard to believe. I had fun with it too ,only time I ever did anything like that

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone  from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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Sep 08 2017

Professor Helped Fill Void After Loss of Dad, Family

Published by under letiche



Professor Jack Letiche going over one of his books with wife Emily in background, circa 2000s

Professor Jack Letiche going over one of his books with wife Emily in background, circa 2000s


Professor Helped Fill Void After Loss of Dad,


September 7, 2017

To family and friends of Professor Letiche,

When my dad passed away five years ago, just short of his 98th birthday, it was important for me to continue my friendship with Professor Letiche, whom I had met through Dad and had gotten to know with the three of us going out for frequent lunches in later years prior to Dad’s passing.  Since Dad passed, Professor Letiche became another father figure, as well as a friend and teacher (though he never acted like one, often more interested in my well-being than his own.  )

Initially, when just the two of us started going out for lunch together I felt a little intimidated. Not that Professor was uncomfortable to be around but quite the opposite.  Here was this world reknown educator from U.C. Berkeley having lunch with little old me. How would I keep up with the conversation?  Could  I say the right things so as not to embarrass myself?  Without Dad I had the full ‘burden’ of carrying on the conversation alone.  But, I quickly learned that it was no burden whatsoever. Professor Letiche always made me feel most comfortable and even like an equal.  Even  though  I had but a fraction of his knowledge or life experience, Professor made me feel like my limited knowledge on economics and other subjects we discussed was just as important as his own.  This encouraged me to ‘bone up’ on topics of discussion so I could be well-versed as I learned and WAS eventually able to hold my own,  which made me feel like I DID have something to say – and our get-togethers became that much more interesting and enjoyable –for me, anyway, and hopefully for Professor.

Though Professor was quite well-spoken, he didn’t use big words to impress, but , rather spoke in everyman’s language we could all understand. I also found this to be true in his writings, such as his memoir, ‘Crisis and Compassion –from Russia to the Golden Gate,’  which was a wonderful read that provided Dad and me many hours of enjoyment reading it together; through this memoir  I gained  further insight into Professor Letiche, the man,  and  the  amazing, full life that he  led.



When Dad was alive, Professor Letiche was the only one who would call nearly every day to check up on him and when the two of us got together the first thing he would always ask  about  were my beloved cats –my lone remaining family members   .  Professor realized how important the cats were to me, especially after losing all my family members.  Few others showed me such a  caring nature.


It became a real treat  for me to go out with Professor Letiche for lunch at one of the finer restaurants in town, such as Skates on the Bay or Bette’s Oceanview Diner.  I would pick him up at his beautiful home in the Berkeley hills and we would venture out to one of a half dozen favorite restaurants we both seemed to equally enjoy.  With my advertising background, It was a pleasure – and challenge –  to help Professor ‘market’ his memoir.  (I remember the wonderful discourse he gave at the University bookstore when the book first  came out as my Dad , still around at the time, and I listened in awe.) The book was a wqdqweqweew true Five Star gem with great reviews one can still see on Amazon or at the the book website

Professor would continue to write articles and had  was just working on another book  that , I believe , dealt with the historical relationship between  unemployment and  the economy, more specifically, trade in light of the possible dissolving of NAFTA .  This was also the topic of one of our last discussions, which  I found very interesting .

When Professor Letiche had a major setback  earlier this year and was hospitalized for several weeks , he bounced   back, so to speak , and was working on the new book.  However, now he was on oxygen full time and our lunches were at Professor’s house.  Yet, he proclaimed it would only be a matter of time until he got stronger and we could go out to restaurants again.  And I believed him.  Much like my own Dad, Professor had the drive and will to go on.  I even watched as he did some light exercises at the table.   Now that Professor was  in a wheelchair it   was in for an even bigger surprise when he asked me to help him stand , which I did, and with the help of Arthur  carrying the oxygen, he would walk all the way to his bedroom, this only several weeks ago.  There, he would continue to do light exercises from the side of his bed while I read him the day’s news from the New York Times.

And to everyone’s surprise – maybe not – Professor did get stronger and  we would continue our now weekly Wednesday afternoon discussions at his dining room table.  Elvie, Professor’s wonderful caregiver, would whip up food that was better than the restaurants’, and I would bring  dessert.   So, I didn’t miss going out to the restaurants , what with Elvie’s restaurant (I was not surprised to learn that she is a noted cook who had planned to open her own restaurant; hopefully one day she still will) and the beautiful view overlooking  the Bay from the Letiche dining room table.  We would now have even better discussions on economics, politics or the topic du jour in this nice, quiet environment. What an enjoyable experience it was for me getting together with Professor, Elvie and Arthur each week.

I already miss Professor Letiche very much. Yesterday was the first Wednesday in some time we didn’t meet. But, I am lucky to have been able to be in his presence a full five years after Dad’s passing. I admired everything about Professor Letiche   – especially his optimism . good nature and  common sense.   Without it , he might not have lived as long as he did.  I remember on one occasion months back he told me about when he wasn’t feeling well. It was a Friday and he couldn’t get into his doctor’s office until Wednesday.  Professor Letiche checked himself into emergency that weekend and it’s a good thing he did, because  the doctors there told him he had a major health issue and if he hadn’t come right in he wouldn’t have made it through the weekend.

Unlike my Dad, Professor was able to live out his live in his beloved home of over 50 years. Though he had outlived most of his contemporaries,  he still had many who cared about him , like Linda   , a former  neighbor who dropped by  during one of our afternoon discussions and it was fun to have her participate. Then there was Cheryl (sp), Professor’s long time next door neighbor , who I had met at Professor’s wife’s remembrance some years ago;  she was good enough to call me that Tuesday morning , September 5, 2017 at five in morning to share with me our loss of Professor.  It was good to have someone to talk to – and then Elvie would call me later.  I’m sure these good friends helped Professor keep going   many more years after losing his beloved wife, Emily.   And,  there were so many others , including Professor’s son, Hugo and his extended family , from whom members would always be coming out from the Netherlands to visit Professor , some as recently as two weeks ago.

Just as when I lost Dad, there will be another big void in my life with the passing of Professor Letiche. But, this time there is nobody left like Professor to help fill the void. I really thought he might just keep on keeping on, but we can’t be greedy. Ninety-eight years isn’t bad, and, again it’s interesting how he made it to almost the exact age as Dad.   I am grateful for having known Professor Letiche, who helped keep me going , so kind and compassionate himself after the loss of my last family member.

Thanks so much to Professor for everything as well as the ‘supporting cast’ in his life who made things work so well for all of us.

With cares and prayers, in living tribute,

Burt Kaufman

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Jul 07 2017

Orange Julius – New Cat Ordeal Should Be Well Worth It

Published by under Julius,Uncategorized

julius posing

Adopting Orange Julius…

Behind the scenes dealings that luckily resulted in our happy match! 


Chronology that resulted in our happy adoption of Julius – barely! …

‘Thanks again for giving Julius a good home. A woman in my neighborhood who used to feed Julius once in a while has asked me to give her your name. I guess she wants to talk with you about Julius. (Maybe she knows if he has gotten his shots, etc.) Is it OK with you for me to give her your name? I told her I wouldn’t do that until I heard back from you. (I don’t know why she doesn’t just look at the NextDoor message board where I saw your note about how Julius is doing.)’ -Joseph, who was finally the neighbor who took it on himself to list Julius on and find him a home –  TO OUR (AND HOPEFULLY JULIUS’ DELIGHT!)


Julius coming to greet from catbird seat

from us to adopter:

Thanks Joseph to you for caring for Julius and offering him to us. I can appreciate this woman Karen (?) Who has also been feeding and caring for Julius who wants to follow thru after years knowing and helping Julius -cant help but get attached -and I appreciate any tips she might give,which she has started already,eg not to let Julius get near the outdoors or he may bolt for which I agree (bit see no signs). Like my past cats, I think he is great fun to be indoors now. please give her my number. I also have her number and will try to call her. Julius a team well and had a good first night. Thanks again. Burt 9257883316


7 7 17 aft  from me:

I hope this is a private message. I didn’t want to have to send this. Everything is fine on our end. Julius seems to be very well and happy but one or two people  you probably know about have suddenly made an issue , i..e. separation anxiety, with   my adoption of Julius, this after several days with nothing but happiness from many on ND that I was adopting Julius . But , first,  Thanks for all your help and, probably improving Julius’ life substantially by getting him ‘out of the streets.
 ‘I did let ‘K’  come by to see Julius and got the feeling there was some resentment that I had taken ‘her’ neighborhood cat and perhaps that you had ‘given’ him away. That was confirmed later when she called me back. Fact of the matter is that nobody was REALLY caring for the cat, judging by the dental work he will be needing and I will be paying for  in addition to the $500 I spent yesterday on tests, microchip, etc. Plus, Julius turns out to be hard of hearing and could be easily hit by a car, etc. etc.   I could go on. I had written a longer email earlier but decided not to send it. Now I have heard again from Karen and one other neighbor who ‘misses’ Julius even though they have not been a regular part of his life. I am offering him a permanent, indoor home,. So, I’m pretty sure you and I are doing the right thing. There is an outside chance he won’t get along with my other cat and if that is the case I told them I would consider returning Julius to the neighborhood if one person would  really be responsible including taking him to the vet. If he’s really 15, as they claim (the vet thinks he’s about eight or nine), Julius will need a lot of attention from here on out… I will post a few pictures on ND and perhaps mention the ‘issue’ a few are having (only two) and if there are others that would really prefer Julius back on the streets rather than in a nice home that he seems to really like. Other things that should have been done include Juliuus having had a colar with name and number for emergencies,. That could have prevented this whole mess, but , in the long run, maybe it’s better because now Julius has a home rather than a ‘sort of ‘ home on the streets.  The other thing is that K  and FW-P  are the only ones protesting, but things seem to be calming down and I think they are realizing that Julius’ quality of life  should come before their feelings  of ‘separation anxiety.’ . At least 10 others on ND were very grateful that I was taking Julius.  Please let me know your thoughts, if you wish. And, yes, I agree with you  about keeping Julius indoors, not only in the beginning, but always. be keeping  , beginning with his own room with all the perks before he ‘graduates’ to the whole house when the other cat is isolated, and eventually, they should get along together, with time.  I do have a special caged ‘outdoor extension’ where the cats can go outside while still being the house ( I plan to   post  pictures).  I may yet send that other email to you, too.

Julius closeup

But, I feel that , after talking to K  twice today, as well as FW-P, they are getting over their separation anxiety while realizing the advantages for Julius having a real home,  and a human who will give him whatever he needs. . I just wanted you to know what was going on with these maybe not so surprising, ‘after the fact’ happenings.  I have a feeling you were on to this already…  Regards, Burt


Joseph Smigelski

6:20 PM (5 hours ago)

to me
Burt, I hope you keep Julius at your home because you are offering the best place for him to be. You have even spent $500 on him! That is amazing. Don’t let “K” and “FW-P” (I don’t know who the latter is) intimidate you into giving up Julius. Neither of them adopted him and took him to the vet. “Separation anxiety”? Give me a break. If they were truly concerned, they would have taken Julius into their homes. By the way, my wife and I had been looking after and feeding Julius for about a week. “K” and “FW-P” had probably seen my posts on ND, but they didn’t offer to take him into their homes. But you did, so Julius is your cat now, and I know you will treat him well. I wish you and yours the best.
Joe S.
I appreciate your ‘closing’  thoughts re Julius adoption and agree, of course with all of them.  I should have probably suspected something when K wanted to come right over to see Julius.  You were more careful in giving out my phone number by asking me first.  I will remember this for any future related incidents that might happen.
I will not waste anymore time with these oeoplw if they do call again.  It’s a settled issue now  with me keeping Julius.  They certainly had their chance, and, as you said, if they really cared they would have taken Julius in or at the very least get a collar with name and phone for him should some stranger find him going from home to home. They’re lucky he stuck around as long as he did.  \
So,  I will simply post a picture or two showing a happy Julius in his new home for the many  NICE folks at ND who asked and then will be done with this issue.
I’ll  just say, once more, thanks for ‘saving’ Julius for a better life experience that I think we will give him.  All my best to you and yours and I don’t expect to have
to write you again about this.
Burt for Orange Julius (and Zack)
FULL NextDoor Timeline going back a month before I would even know of Julius or his NextDoor meanderings…  But, yes, it must have been meant to be because Ornji was still there… I have a feeling the Next Door string would have dwindled off  in another day or two.. I just happened to come along in time… Sometimes things work out this way… but not often. This is the way I would want to have/find a pet

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Apr 13 2017

Letter of Reflection, Thanks on the Holidays

Published by under Outside the Box,Uncategorized

For me, Passover / Easter  this year is a time for reflection, to emerge from the ‘chains of bondage’ much like our ancestors did 5000-plus years ago. Time to move outside the box and DO and ACCOMPLISH as we SAVOR and ENJOY each valued day we have left on earth (they do become fewer and fewer and we never know when ).

It’s so easy to race through life but this year ,
especially , and after a recent,difficult  loss , I am thinking about those who have been an important part of my life and my family’s life. That would be a good number of people but at the top of the list are Uncle H  Aunt R  as well as R , L , A  and T  and their families – though I haven’t seen T  D  for some time.
T  and D  might be interested, especially,to know that tonight  reaching beyond  normal comfort zone to attend a chabad seder in town with people   never met. It should be a good experience and the kind of thing I  need to do more.
I’m thinking today of the many , many generous, helpful phone calls I /we received from Uncle H  Aunt R during difficult family , times as well as the many wonderful  visits with H  R  and OTHER members of family.
It was usually the Divines coming West to visit us… a wonderful Trader Vics dinner getting to visit Laurie and meet her fascinating husband, catching up with Amy for a meaningful reunion at  Dads apartment. I know these visits were especially therapeutic for Dad when there wasn’t much going on in Dads life. Ill never forget how Rick was the only doctor from among seven  opinions I sought who was able to correctly diagnose and correct my serious red eye problem when he was here at Stanford.
But, most of all, I am grateful for the many caring and helpful phone calls from Uncle H and A R  during the multitude of family issues.
Your ‘long distance ,’ common sense guidance was more helpful than what local help we might have received. My last vacation,with Dad , to visit H  and R  in W  was one I’ll never forget. I’ve only begun taking short trips again , recently, so that was a big deal and another ‘outside the comfort zone’ experience I’m glad I made and while Dad could still travel.
In short , uncle H Aunt R , you helped make our later years some of the best,despite all the health issue’s in our family. The visits or  just knowing you were never more than a friendly phone call away made all our lives better- and that goes for not only  dad but mom, joan, Don and myself. NOBODY did more for us and for that I am eternally grateful as I know Dad and the rest of the Kaufman family were while they were here.
I’m glad you’re with family on this day so you ,too , can savor special times as I did with Dad and the rest of my family.
So, I’m thinking of you extra on this day,  and look   forward to being in touch with you all again soon.


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Apr 05 2017

Shock of Sudden Reality Setting In – That I Don’t Belong in Oakland Anymore

Published by under Oakland,Politics





Shock of Sudden Reality Setting In – That I Don’t Belong There

I was given tickets to the Oakland Speakers series to see author Michael Lewis of Money Ball and The Big Short fame.  I always wondered about Lewis, not being   a big fan of Money Ball  and always wondered how that got made into a movie along with The Big Short, another movie I felt was over-rated.

So, what the heck- it might be interesting to hear this hometown (Berkeley via New Orleans) author expound on the current state of baseball, the economy and who knows what.  The lecture was April 4, 2017 at the beautiful, restored Paramount Theater in Oakland.

I made sure to get there early as tickets state that your seat will be given away to a person who couldn’t afford to pay regular price if you’re not in your seat by 8 pm.  Sure enough the empty seat next to me was filled by a young, impressionable-appearing student. But even before sitting down I was struck by the parking fee of $20 for the hour lecture. I’d never paid more than $10 for various Param,ount events, including some very recent ones.

I did notice, the people coming in to the lecture appeared to be older, well-healed white folks.


White Liberal Speakers In A Black City

I also noticed that all the featured lecturers in the lecture series brochure were extreme liberals such as Madeline Albright, Paul Begala, Ayaan Hiri Ali, Alan Alda, Michael Beschlos. I wasn’t too sure about Michael Lewis’ bent – or if he had one – but I thought it odd to  have all liberal speakers rather than a mix of politics and maybe people with no political leaning.

Before I go any further I will say that I was impressed with the message from Lewis’ most recent blockbuster, The Big Short, which talks about the corruption on Wall Street and how the banks made out big selling sub-prime mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them – and that Lewis’ book and subsequent movie did result in changes in the banking system.

Michael Lewis Darling of the Left, Obama

That said,  Lewis’ first answer to   the first question from  moderator  Joan Ryan ended up castigating our current President.  The question dealt with former President Obama and how Lewis had somehow garnered a private audience with the President, not for one moment but for weeks, off and on.  Lewis, who appears  quite aggressive in his fast-talking, animated style spoke about emailing Obama’s secretary one night after several glasses of wine .  Lewis got an answer back that  he could phone the President, which  he did, but that Obama didn’t seem very interested in having an author come in to see what it was like to be President.  After several more calls to the President, Lewis was given an audience with Obama which Lewis calls a high point of his career.  Then, in jest, he went out of his way to knock current President Trump, saying that he would probably have no interest  in visiting him, that the only thing they would have in common is golf and tweeting, after which the audience went hysterical. Lewis would also admit that it wasn’t all roses during his time with Obama when he had a ‘dust up’ because Obama didn’t necessarily agree with all the Wall Street/Banking corruption Lewis wrote about.

Lewis Spent More Time Bashing Trump Than Reflecting About His Books

During the program, Lewis was sure to drop Trumps name several more times, and never in a positive way.  At one point he said about Trump , ‘ I would like to bring him down.’  After that  strong statement , the moderator  n ow very hyped   with the rest of  the  crowd  after that statement  , asked Lewis how we would try to bring Trump down. Lewis said, ‘ I can’t tell you now but I’m working on it,’ which garnered another big roar from the crowd.

It wasn’t  just Trump bashing but Lewis appeared to be against anything Republican.  He told a story about how his daughters had trouble dealing with the parents in more conservative towns like Rohnert Park when they played softball against them. Lewis said he was spending 30 hours a week coaching his daughters’ teams and would travel and see what he considered hostility from the other parents.  (As an aside, one wonders how Lewis finds time to write when he spends 30 hours a week coaching.

‘Narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets’

By now, I am wondering what I am doing  at this place with rabid fans of Lewis, who has but two or three big books and obviously hates the president only 60 days into his term.  Probably always hated him and always will.  I was really surprised to hear all his Trump bashing as his books, for which I came to hear Lewis speak, were purportedly about baseball and the economy.  As a registered Democrat myself, I grew up believing the company line that Democrats were open-minded and Republicans the closed-minded. Though, in reality, I have come to the honest  reality, later in life, that it’s just the opposite – that republicans are the nicer, fairer ones as we are learning in corrected histories that show how democrats were actually the ones more instrumental in the slave trade of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that Lincoln broke down the doors of slavery, etc.

The lecture atmosphere at the Paramount felt like that of a club or fraternity to which I didn’t belong.    Why was Lewis so popular anyway. He sounds like any number of  aggressive activists from Berkeley.  Lewis may be as good or better a marketer than a writer – and having his liberal pedigrfee certainly helped him  get in the Hollywood film door, ala Michael Moore and others.

Quite frankly, even if I agreed with Lewis’ ‘hate speech’ it wasn’t worth the $50 price tag (not to mention the parking, which, apparently well healed Oaklanders and Berkeleyites will pay) to hear a few of his personal stories and limited info  about the books he wrote for which I believe most people came to hear –  with the possible exception his  ‘political groupies’  there more to vent and be seen.  But, apparently, it’s part of ‘the plan’  for  all those Oakland and Berkeley hill people.  Perhaps it’s the Democrat version of a Trump rally, where people can vent not at the lecturer (unless it’s Trump)  but WITH the lecturer.

         No longer the Same Oakland I Grew Up In

I grew up in Oakland not a political animal. But, I don’t think politics ever played as much a part of  urban life, at least in Oakland, as it does today.  It’s sad to see how people have become so hateful.

Looking back to when Obama was first elected, though I didn’t  vote for him, I was impressed to give the first black President a chance to lead – at least 100 days worth of chances, which few if any Democrats seem to be giving Trump. I’ve never enjoyed going to concerts where musicians use their name and place to harangue  a political cause. This night author Lewis was doing just that.  Had the night been billed as ‘Michael Lewis Hate Speech’ I wouldn’t have come  out.

It was also interesting to note that there wasn’t a black person in the crowd of several thousand liberal whites in Oakland, a town who’s population is nearly half black. It was a crowd of baby boomers, perhaps still living the late 60s and at least giving the impression that they really cared about the poor even if they were living now, mostly in bedroom communities such as Montclair, Kensington, Orinda through Walnut Creek. It’s interesting that perhaps the majority of the crowd lived OUTSIDE of Oakland.

Never before in my 60-plus years living in the area did the political divide hit me so hard.  I have my own theories for  the widest divide in memory, which I won’t go into right now. But now, suddenly, I understand while I stopped feeling welcome in Oakland, including my own church of many years.  I’ve even felt the disparity more than ever , of late, among my own friends and relatives.

I once was a big supporter of Oakland and remember our family staying there while many of our friends opted for ‘white flight’ to the suburbs during the 1960s. (My family did eventually move to Montclair, still within the Oakland line, in 1968 , so my brother could go to a ‘better school’  than the one in the flatlands where I went.   Eventually, something told me to move out of Oakland and now I’m glad I did. I see Oakland and similar urban areas as less friendly to all groups than they were in the 1960s growing up. True equality  doesn’t really exist among all peoples (including segments of the white population and religions).    The divide is now among  all lines, religion, race and economics as the middle class disappears and America comes closer to being a socialist country, what with people like Bernie Sanders, who nearly won the presidency.


Sadly, I will not be attending any more of the Oakland Lecture Series at the Paramount until they offer an ‘equal opportunity’  for speakers of all political bents and races (only one black speaker in the series and zero  Republicans.


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Mar 28 2017

Landmark Day Begins Personal Travel Again After 10 Years

Published by under Kennels,Milestone,Zack



POSSIBLE LIFE CHANGER as Zack and Waiterock Seem a Great Match

Today was the test, or first test day. After nearly 10 years without a vacation, it looks like I’ll be actually getting away . It will be a shock to go beyond the Bay Area Friday when I head up to visit friends in Redding, Northern California (assuming Zack passes the final behavior modification test Thursday.) Today Zack had  absolutely no problem at Waiterock Kennels -the best kept secret at least in Lafayette.

Frankly, I never considered  using a kennel for boarding pets while on vacation. I always thought letting the pets stay in their own environment was best, i.e. hiring a pet sitter to drop  in a few times , or , in my most recent cases (10 years ago) to live at my house (this after some bad experienced with drop in sitters where I lost one young cat for no good reason (sudden cat death) and other problems with sitters-even reputably good ones.

It’s certainly a lot less expensive boarding one’s dog or cat – and I assumed the more it costs the better, but not necessarily I now am learning.  I only learned about this kennel from an old friend a few weeks ago . There aren’t a lot of kennels around – especially for cats as most people just leave their cats alone, believing them to be self sufficient; they may be more self sufficient than dogs but it is my strong belief that even cats like companionship , or at least someone around.  After a 10 minute drive from my house to check it out I found Waiterock Kennels, at least by appearance, to be as good as my friend represented it. And, today, after Zack seemed to have no problem , though a short test stay, and meeting the owner, I feel better than ever. ‘Your cat will be just fine. Go take a trip wherever you want. Go to Hawaii,’ she said.  I almost couldn’t believe the words I heard.

It’s like a cloud has been removed with this new ‘discovery.’  I told the owner I do advertising and would help her but I almost don’t want to give Waiterock any more business lest it get too crowded. Right now it’s an oasis with , on average 25 dogs and a handful of cats each day – busier during holidays. So, before I get too excited, let’s get through this trip. But, it’s been a memorable day.

Also came upon this article, below along with my preface, the same day… all pointing out to a new life direction just when I most need it. And, of course, we musn’t forget Ornji, who played an indirect part in making this happen; of course, I would have preferred to have Ornji live many more years, even if it meant not traveling, but since this is what happened you take advantage

How Inspirational Blog from a Grieving Wife Affected My Life, Maybe Yours

I was just forwarded a wonderful blog about Jill’s husband’s life . I had to write her to say ‘thanks’
for the timely,  needed inspirationfor my own life. …
Dear Jill,
That was a very moving, bittersweet account of Fred’s life and persona 
that has given me new, needed inspiration for my own life.
 It’s never long enough, but Fred certainly accomplished much in his life
and seemed to enjoy most every moment (aside from his illnesses, which
he was somehow able to  not dwell on.)   
I am at a crossroads in my life and Fred (and your) story gives me new
inspiration to climb out of the dark place I’ve been in of late. In my case,
it was my dear, young , special cat (don’t laugh) who I lost that triggered the grief (which 
is actually an accumulation of many things.  At least with Ornji I had a best pal
to bond with during his amazing battle he finally lost to FIV-influenced liver cancer.
But along the way  during that battle we had our best days together, savoring  the days
– Ornji and some pets , in general, don’t always dwell on their illnesses like people, especially
when they still have quality of life with projects of their own to keep the busy and happy.
With some inspiration from people including you via your blog about Fred I will be 
commemorating Ornji in an ebook, gathered from the multiple blog chapters I’ve written
( Along the way Ornji taught me many things
including enjoying life and making the most of what time we have.
In my case, I’m lucky to have good health right now, but we never know what can happen 
tomorrow, so each day should be savored and enjoyed, if not met with an accomplishment or two.
In recognition of Ornji, I try to do at least one good deed or achievement per day.
My accomplishment today was taking my surviving cat to a kennel to see if he would accept it for a day
so I could take my first vacation in a decade ;  I won’t go into the many contributing factors
that held be back from traveling. If all goes well – I won’t go away if Zack doesn’t accept
the kennel (but first reports are good in this one day test) – this will be a major accomplishment for me.
In summation, your article came at a very opportune time for me. It’s amazing how  good can result out
of bad.  I will hang on to Fred’s story and think of him along my future road (hopefully the Road To Success).
With your permission I will pass on your artiocle to others like myself who may benefit from Fred’s story.
Thanks again to you and Fred.



” When my husband kissed me goodbye at the airport on November 6th, I had no idea it would be for the last time.

Fred-Jill-Hiking.pngI was flying home for a day and then on to Boston to speak at HubSpot’s big INBOUND conference. Fred was staying at our condo in southern Utah to spend a couple weeks golfing.

That’s not how things turned out. Two days later he died of complications from PSC, an autoimmune liver disease. I made it back to say good-bye; so did my kids. It was tough. We all miss him—a lot.

As I reflect back on our life together, I realize how much Fred changed the trajectory of my life, reordered my priorities and modeled behaviors that I wanted to emulate. That’s why I want to share them with you.

Life Lesson 1. Winning is always possible.

When I first met Fred, he was the head football coach in White Bear Lake. By the age of 33, he’d already won two state championships. But in between those seasons, his teams really struggled.

I’ll never forget the time his team played Stillwater, the reigning state champs who had a 6-0 record. White Bear still hadn’t yet won a game. Over the weekend, Fred and the coaching staff spent hours watching game film. Their challenge? Figuring out how to stop an unstoppable offense and how to score against an impenetrable defense.

We went out for dinner mid-week. He was excited about what the team was working on. He used the placemat to draw up their offensive plans and blocking schemes. He diagramed how they were going to keep Stillwater from scoring.

Shocked, I finally said, “You don’t actually think you’re going to win, do you?”

Fred answered, “Yes. I do. We’ve got a good game plan. And, if we can execute it and they have a bad night, we can win.”

On Friday night, White Bear came out on top, winning by a score of 7-6. This was only possible because of the hard work put into figuring out a “win strategy” and near flawless execution.

Life Lesson 2. Be a cheerleader.

Fred-coaching.pngAny time you learn new skills or go beyond your comfort zone, fear and doubt creep in. As a life-long coach in both sports and business, Fred knew that the young people and adults he worked with needed to know the “why’s” and “how-to’s” first.

But, to be the best they could be, he knew that people needed someone to believe in them. When he was coaching, whenever kids did anything right, Fred was always the first one there, patting them on the back and saying, “Atta, baby!”

And, when people screwed up, he pulled them quietly aside to show/tell them what to do differently. Then, before he sent them back to work (or into the game), he’d pat them on the back and say, “You can do it.”

When I was thinking of starting my own consulting firm, I was a bundle of angst, worrying if I could actually make a go of it. When I told Fred my fears, he said with a 100% conviction, “I’d bet on you any day.” It’s what I needed to make the leap into entrepreneurship.

In short, Fred wanted people to be the best they could be—and this was how he helped them achieve it.

Life Lesson 3. Always have fun.

When I first watched my husband coaching the high school kids, it was clear that he was having more fun than anyone else on the field. He loved what he was doing and his enthusiasm was contagious. I saw him do the same thing when he coached both our kids. He made practice and drills fun, while working the team hard.

When he ran his leadership development program at Thrivent (a financial services firm), he spent hours at a magic shop figuring out what would be fun and surprising to the attendees. His favorite was setting a big glass of water down right in front of big table as he was talking.

Then, when he was gesturing wildly with his hands, he’d knock it over. Everyone would jump up to avoid getting soaked and quickly grab their workbooks, purses and devices. Except, no one ever did. When they weren’t looking, he’d dropped some “potion” in the water that turned it into a gel.

For me, Fred was my playmate. While I was working, he was busy planning what we’d do next. As I write this, I’m at our condo in Southern Utah. Every day, when I was done with work, he’d have an idea about where we should go hiking or a new restaurant to visit. He was always on the lookout for cool activities or incoming shows.

Fun matters. Fun makes everything better. Mary Poppins once said, “In every job that must be done, there’s an element of fun. And when you find the fun then snap, the job’s a game.”

Life Lesson 4. Learn new things.

When my husband decided to retire early due to health reasons, I was worried that he’d become a couch potato and lose his oomph (like so many retirees). After all, research shows that if you want to stay vital in life and work, learning new knowledge and skills is essential.

I shouldn’t have been concerned. The first project Fred tackled was earning his instrument rating, a special designation held by only 5% of private pilots that allows you to fly when visibility is near zero. It took a full year.

Then, he decided to re-do his prized possession, a 1966 Corvette. He literally took it apart piece-by-piece, putting every nut and bolt in a little plastic bag, labeling it and hanging it on a wall in the garage. When it was stripped bare, a welder fixed the corroded frame and then Fred started reassembling it.

He spent hours watching YouTube videos to figure out how to put it together again. He was a frequent visitor to Corvette forums, reading how others fixed problems, found good replacement parts and more. Four years later, after it was finally running again, he was proudly showing it at local car shows.


Finally, Fred was a golf lover. Even as a retiree, he was determined to bring his handicap down. He religiously read golf magazines, watched videos and experimented with new techniques. When the weather permitted, he practiced daily. Putting, chipping and ultimately, the drives. Shortly before he passed away, he shot a 78!

Life-long learning is essential for all of us. We feel better. We’re challenged. We stay at the top of our game.

Life Lesson 5. Create memorable experiences.

My husband loved planning events of all sorts—the kind that wouldn’t be forgotten. My surprise 40th birthday was filled with an assemblage of friends from every decade of my life. Anniversaries were carefully-planned romantic dinners. This fall, Fred pulled together a 5-day trip to the Columbia River Gorge to celebrate the completion of my newest book.

With my daughter Katie, he created a tradition of going to one big horse race each year. Together, they completed the Triple Crown series by going to the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont and the Preakness. They also looked forward to watching horse racing at a small local track, where they’d bet against each other for fun. When the track was closed, they’d visit the Science Museum, then go for dinner and gelato at a favorite Italian restaurant.

Memorable experiences with my son Ryan centered around football and flying. This fall, a few weeks before Fred died, the two of them went to UND’s homecoming game where my son played college ball. In previous years, they went to watch home games of the Oregon Ducks and Miami. They’d also make annual treks to the Oshkosh Airshow, camping out on the tarmac and spending their days looking at the planes.

In business today, customer experience is the #1 emerging trend. As leaders and sellers, it’s essential to think about this at work now too. But I’d also suggest you make it part of your personal life as well.

Fred-Top of the World.png

Life Lesson 6. Choose your attitude.

My husband had numerous health problems throughout his life, but most people didn’t have a clue. He was always so active and upbeat. Over the years, he had ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, bad headaches, severe curvature of the spine, Hashimoto’s disease, skin cancer and multiple operations.

Most recently, Fred had quadruple by-pass surgery (where he almost died), a hip replacement and was undergoing experimental procedures for neck pain. All the while, the PSC was slowly destroying his liver.

Yet Fred always got up with a smile on his face and plans for doing something that mattered. He always had some project going on to help others, improve the house, or to brighten someone’s day. And, he’d try to get some physical activity in as well, knowing it helped him stay healthier.

By evening, Fred was often exhausted and would collapse in front of the TV … but he felt good, like he’d accomplished something meaningful and enjoyed the people in his life.

Life Lesson 7. Your job is not your life.

After experiencing early success in sales at Xerox, I was hooked. I loved making my numbers, hitting 135% of quota, then even higher. I loved competing against the “A” players and beating them on the leader boards. I loved winning Sales Rep of the Month awards and the quarterly contests. All I could think about was getting promoted, the faster the better—and making even more money.

Today, I feel fortunate that my husband fought for my soul. While he was happy for my success, he continually challenged on the fact that my self-image was so wrapped up in being “successful.” Initially I hated him for it.

But the reality is, he was right. I could have easily become a bigwig executive making boatloads of money. I could have been so wrapped up in my job that I’d have lost the important relationships in my life—and all the priceless moments that go with them.

Fred helped me stay grounded in what matters. Family. Friends. And, doing work that matters.

Fred-Close-Up.pngFred’s Motto.

Finally, I’d like to share the credo my husband lived by. Katie and Ryan heard him say it endlessly. As a coach, he always shared it with the kids on his teams. I think he got it from Lou Holtz, a legendary coach who once asked Fred to join his football staff.

Do what’s right.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Be the best you can be.

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Mar 12 2017

Gratitude Daily Deed Inspired by Ornji

Gratitude Daily Deeds Inspired by Ornji

Feb 24, 2017: ORNJI PASSES but only after putting up the greatest fight and communicating all the way in a positive way to make those last days not so difficult but even of a quality nature - despite Ornji's serious illness. After never showing any real signs of discomforting - bouncing back from other non-eating spells in the past- Ornji this time, alert but listless , unable to move much, kindly alerted us through his eyes that it was 'time.' This non-verbal communication was special and only Ornji could do it , so much so that I now try to pay closer attention to that of other pets and animals. Even on Ornji's last night he was teaching and inspirting
Feb 25: Started GRATITUDE APPs a couple days earlier. Noting appreciation for each new sunrise, and sunset, sitting outside now without Ornji - now without but trying my best to enjoy with Ornji's inspiration and occasional Zack visits as well as squirrels and birds. Grateful for all the animals and pets for their unconditional love
Feb. 26: Tried taking Zack in CAR RIDE in attempt to get him to travel with me - Usual disappointment but could have been worse. At least we tried
Feb 27: Finally went to UKELE CLUB : I'd held off going for months but with Ornji's inspiration to get out and 'do it' while meeting some new people I did it. Turned out good, too, and I'll continue
Feb 28 Thinking about Ornji and how grateful for all he gave including the 10 ways he improved my life (see list elsewhere
MAR 1 Squirrel and a bird came to visit me on deck, coming within a couple feet, which is unusual. Stayed a long while. I enjoyed their company
Mar 2 Enjoyed special bike ride in Napa thru St Helena back woods, Cliffs vinery and bruchettera -sitting out in beautiful garden prior to bike ride
Mar 3 : 'Travel again without fear'. It's been about 7 years since I have left the Bay Area and probably 10 years since I've traveled without fear. After losing my entire family-brother and sister at early ages- four of my first five cats within seven months including one to 'sudden death syndrome' while away on vacation, and three other friends , prematurely, I developed a serious fear of traveling; it had always been hard, especially since acquiring pets including sister Joan's older dogs but now it became unbearable with the cumulative losses and fear of losing the last pet
Mar 4 : As part of 8 above , stopped by Waiterock kennels to consider this option on new push to travel.
Mar 5: Jogged Lafayette Rez hills for first time in nearly a year. Felt good and nice change of pace I needed
Mar 6: Made it to 2nd Uke Club meeting despite getting off sick bed.. I normally wouldn't have gone but Ornji pushed me.
Mar 7: Studied Kabalah purpose of Life 'bread of shame' showing how people are now brought up as 'reactive' (indulgent -what is there for me?) vs proactive ( to go out of comfort zone to achieve more purpose, fulfillment in life.
Mar 8: Went to new favorite place, Velo Winery and bruchetteria for comforting time , while happening upon excellent radio show dealing with loss, featuring philosopher Kahlil Gibron (sp) (Savage)
Mar 9:
Updated Ornji tribute 'One Last Hurrah -Goes Out with Class,' leaving a legacy behind in during his four short years with me. Added 'pet tricks blog featuring Ornji walking on rocks.'
Mar 10: Saw the SHACK inspirational movie that had a lot of overtones of my life with Ornji
Mar 11: Received great card from Vet Dr H-E, which made me feel good and responded with a reply published in
Mar 12 - Biked favorite SunolPreserve, 1st time in over a year, another real adventure when I got lost on a washed out trail, ending in marsh; only a single hiker far above got me back on track.
MAR 13
Mar 14
Mar 15 -Took care of business..put on a happy face and went to implant dentist and CPA to turn in books-turned out CPA had lost his cat too and we had much in common along with Kathy, ofc manager, very nice people
Mar 16
Mar 17 Spent all morn from 6 am playing with Zack. Never have we played so long together... Then read from death dying book, Then listened to Prager's Happiness Hour: Religious people are more happy as they realize that we are born into a life we didn't choose. It chose us, pluys other events. But, at least we have the knowledge to understand why we might not be happy. OK to feel as you like but try to ACT HAPPY in public - good project.
Mar 18 -Smokey Joes Cafe nice temporary break from reality-great show at Laf Town Hall
Mar 19
Mar 20- Rainbow Bridge candlelight ceremony for Ornji
Mar 21
Mar 22 - During therapeautic bike ride up Howell Mtn in Napa got good news call from vet re Zack's labs
Mar 23 -This time good news for myself at annual 'c' medical followup. , followed by bike ride in SF and 'celebtration ' dinner in honor of Zack and my good health while honoring Ornji in so doing.
Mar 24 - Zack started using Ornji's room for the first time, sitting atop cat bird perch in bay window
Mar 25 -First real social outing since Ornji, dinner with Sharon and Min got me out a bit
Mar 26 Viewed tulip display at Mtn View Cem while visitng Dad, Mom and Don at gravesites
Mar 27 Rainbow bridge candle light for Ornj and uke club
Mar 28 Zack passed 1st real test Waiterock Kennel, 3 hours with no problems, in prep for my first vaca in almost 10 years Friday
Mar 29
Mar 30 - Zack 2nd test at kennel, survived 6 hours, tomorrow big day
Mr 31 First getaway in almost 10 years, 8 to see Kelleys in Red Bluff,. dropped Zack at Waiterock 2:30 and arrived Red Bluff 5:45 pm -Enjoyed Antsy McClain and Trailer Park Troubadours
Apr 1 Back home after long night drive, picked up Zack 11 am to complete first vacation in almost 10 years! Ornji indirectly made it possible.

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Mar 11 2017

Ornji RIP

Published by under Ornji

     I’ve written most of my thoughts about the wonderful life and times of Ornji (of which I was fortunate enough to be a part) at but here are some more recent thoughts I sent in reply to my vet’s nice greeting card


Dr H E , staff,

Your card I received in mail today meant a lot to me.

The more the joy, the more the sorrow’

    I just came upon words to that effect as I worked thru my grief following the loss of Ornji. I guess that describes me. The more one loves the more potential for hurt…  as told in sources like Tao and Kahlil Gibran.  I’m no scholar but it makes Sense to me.


This has been a real hard one, even with the ‘bonus’ four + months

Ornji and I had together. I’m so glad we did have the extra days with   the chemotherapy and all yet in some ways it made it harder because we really bonded more than ever, trying

to squeeze each extra drop of life out of each day and minute caring for each other (yes, Ornji took care of me, too, really showing his appreciation, never complaining, still enjoying a surprisingly good quality of life to the end. He had a real will to live and

responded positively   time and again every time we thought it might

be over. ) I tried to help keep his life quality great with lots of scratchers,  cat beds and window places  for him , favorite  quality foods and treats – and Ornji tried hard to enjoy every day, even sick (you wouldn’t have known it most of the time) still enjoyed

going outside in his ‘extension ‘ to the very last morning. Only that last night did he really show any sign of ‘maybe this is it’ by coming out -not hiding as some cats will do-

then lying listlessly while telling us with his eyes that it was probably  his ‘time’ for us to let him go. (Ornji had ‘come back’ so many times but even only a day after a very positive doctor visit that showed weight gain and higher blood results, that darn liver just wasn’t cooperating.  After finding an unexpected helpful

Dr LaFarge ( ASPCA) on  hotline who encouraged us not to wait too long we brought Ornji right in and Encina night doc  Dr. Lew (?) confirmed that Ornji probably wasn’t going to bounce back this time, and who was helpful with Ornji’s final moments.

Though it’s  hard now, my four + years with Ornji were wonderful (it’s own story ) and just one more pet experience that makes me appreciate pets and especially Ornji more than ever – from the time Ornji first walked up to me in the yard, then directed me to the basement

door where he wanted to stay at night – and did for the first three years , until he got sick and became  indoor cat (which was another great  experience to have a second cat again for me and Zack  (only a short time after Weepy and April passed)…so even the timing was great.

I enjoyed getting up early every day – 5 am, then 7am to  see Ornji happily eating well – even if we had to sometimes go through 2-3-4 different cans, at usual eating times  and  throughout the day, then going to enjoy the outside for awhile before coming in for a brushing   at my feet or occasionally jump on on the desk next to me ,a s I worked… There was no real  gradual deterioration or noticeable ain like I’ve seen in previous pet s.

We were very lucky to have had Ornji with us even if only four years and I hope he felt the same way.

Sorry to go on so long, Dr Hall Esso, Ghilane and staff… but not everyone is as receptive and sympathetic as you

and this helps me in the grieving process.

Soon, I would like to also share ’10 Ways Ornji Enriched My Life

Please, no need to respond to this – it is my therapy, just nice to have someone to  whom to send it  . And, I wish I could thank all those at Encina involved in Ornji’s care such as the nice young women administering the chemo.


Well, one thing for sure, Zack now is getting the attention from me he didn’t get while we were intent on Ornji. I know we owe him a teeth cleaning with you and will make every effort to get there in the next month


Thanks again for your very thoughtful card,

Burt for Zack

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Aug 17 2016

National Friendship Week third week of August -10 inspiring quotes

Published by under Uncategorized

National Friendship Week third week of August nice sendout












































































































































































10-inspiring-quotes-celebrate-your-friends-22965 2nd week august

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May 30 2016

Good Follows the Bad with A Little Help – Ornji’s Recover Thank You Note

Published by under Uncategorized

ornjy stepping out into his new indoor outdoor extension as new indoor datDear Dr. ,
It’s quite an exciting and wonderful to see modern medicine and
the top professionals in the field – YOU and your team –
effectively extend Ornji’s life against
great odds – especially after losing my first three rescued cats
to similar diseases (not to mention losing my entire family to cancer including brother and sister in the past 15 years). It makes Ornji’s recovery all the more special for me – and I can tell Ornji is equally greatful just by the way he has fought to stay alive while accepting the medicines,sub q fluids, collar and limitations while adapting to indoor status that he previously fought. For anyone who takes a life like this for granted, please have them call me. Each extra day of life is a bonus and blessing. I only wish I discovered Encina and it’s unparalleled specialists 10 years earlier. Words can not say how much I/we appreciate what you have done.
Forever greatful,
Burt for Ornji

(P.S. Now if only Ornji will accept to his new indoor friend, Zack, waiting behind closed doors. I think he will now even if he wouldn’t before.)

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