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Open letter to McCrory from tech leaders #wearenotthis #hb2


Dear Governor McCrory,

We write with concerns about legislation you signed into law this week, House Bill 2, which has overturned protections for LGBT people and sanctioned discrimination across North Carolina.

Put simply, HB 2 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies, of our country, or even the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians.

Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

We are disappointed in your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.

We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.


Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box
Brandee Barker, Cofounder, The Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, Blab
Ed Black, President and CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association
Nathan Blecharczyk, Cofounder and CTO, Airbnb
Steven R. Boal, CEO, Quotient Technology Inc.
Lorna Borenstein, CEO, Grokker
Brad Brinegar, Chairman and CEO, McKinney
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb
Ron Conway, Founder and Co-Managing Partner, SV Angel
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Dean Debnam, Chairman and CEO, Workplace Options
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square and Twitter
David Ebersman, Cofounder and CEO, Lyra Health
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and Chief Product Officer, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, CEO, Pepo
Alan King, President and COO, Workplace Options
Kristen Koh Goldstein, CEO, BackOps
Mitchell Gold, co-founder and chair-man, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
John H. Graham IV, President and CEO, American Society of Association Executives
Logan Green, CEO, Lyft
Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Charles H. Hill III, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources, Pfizer Inc.
Reid Hoffman, Chairman, LinkedIn
Robert Hohman, Cofounder & CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Chad Hurley, Cofounder, YouTube
Dave Imre, Partner and CEO, IMRE
Dev Ittycheria, President & CEO, MongoDB
Laurene Powell Jobs, President, Emerson Collective
Cecily Joseph, VP Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Symantec Corporation
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, Founder and CEO, Gogobot
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Joshua Kushner, Managing Partner, Thrive Capital
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Shan-lyn Ma, CEO, Zola
Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo
Melody McCloskey, CEO, StyleSeat
Douglas Merrill, CEO, Zestfinance
Dyke Messinger, President and CEO, Power Curbers Inc.
Hari Nair, Vice President and General Manager
Michael Natenshon, CEO, Marine Layer
Alexi G. Nazem, Cofounder and CEO, Nomad Health
Laurie J. Olson, EVP, Strategy, Portfolio and Commercial Operations, Pfizer Inc.
Bob Page, Founder and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Michelle Peluso, Strategic Advisor and former CEO, Gilt
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Mark Pincus, Founder and Executive Chairman, Zynga
Hosain Rahman, CEO, Jawbone
Bill Ready, CEO, Braintree
Evan Reece, CEO, Liftopia
Stan Reiss, General Partner, Matrix Partners
John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation
Virginia M. Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM Corporation
Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg
Kevin P. Ryan, Founder and Chairman, Alleycorp
Bijan Sabet, General Partner, Spark Capital
Julie Samuels, President, Engine
George A. Scangos, PhD, CEO, Biogen
Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal
Adam Shankman, Director and Producer
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
David A. Shaywitz, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, DNAnexus
Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International
David Spector, Cofounder, ThirdLove
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip
Todd Thibodeaux, CEO, CompTIA
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Kevin A. Trapani, President and CEO, The Redwood Groups
Ken Wasch, President, Software & Information Industry Association
Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen, The Weinstein Company
Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO, Facebook

The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey by Dawn Anahid MacKeen


Hundred Year Walk by Dawn Anahid MacKeenMy second cousin Dawn Anahid MacKeen wrote a really good book titled The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey. She is an investigative journalist and her writing is marvelous.

This story of her grandfather’s survival (my great uncle) during the first genocide of the 20th century is harrowing–but it’s a page-turner, as well, and shouldn’t be relegated to the Armenian-genocide-survival-tale canon, alone. What’s fascinating is his amazing resilience–and hers. She retraced Stepan’s forced march along the deportation route through Turkey and modern-day Syria (before Syria’s civil war, which is tearing the country apart and turning it into a killing field once more).

Listen to this excellent interview with Dawn on NPR, “Long After Armenian Genocide, Retracing A Grandfather’s Steps To Survival”

Dawn’s book excerpted at, “The crime of being Armenian: Sick, dehydrated, I was following my grandfather’s path through Syria as he fled the Turks. How must he have suffered?”

My Amazon and Goodreads review of Dawn’s book:


The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey (Spoiler alert) The number of times reporter and writer Dawn Anahid MacKeen’s maternal grandfather Stepan Miskjian escaped death during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Turks is mind boggling. This is a graphic, disturbing, but ultimately redemptive account of one very resourceful man’s survival during the first genocide of the 20th century—when the ruling pashas set out to exterminate Turkey’s large ethnic Armenian population.

MacKeen alternates Stepan’s story with her own experiences in 2007 retracing his steps. His diaries in hand, she traveled from his hometown of Adabazar outside Constantinople, all the way to the killing fields of Deir El Zor in present-day Syria, where the surviving Armenians were mercilessly slaughtered. Ironically, this region is now in the hands of the so-called Islamic State.

The author manages to turn an unbearable subject into a page-turner. With each chapter you wonder how the 5-foot 4-inch Stepan will slip away from his captors—armed, saber-wielding gendarmes on horseback—and evade being swept back into the massive deportation of Turkey’s Armenian population.

MacKeen’s clean, spare reporting style is dispassionate but descriptive. We are transported to that place and time. We see what Stepan saw and survive the horrors alongside him. He is resourceful, intelligent, generous and scrupulously honest throughout his ordeal, while many around him are not. We root for the diminuitive hero throughout. My only regret is that MacKeen does not offer the reader even more about her own experiences and travels retracing her grandfather’s steps.

Ultimately, Stepan survives the killings thanks to a Bedouin sheik who shelters and employs him, and other Armenians, for the remainder of the war.

In one chapter, MacKeen recounts how—with Assad’s secret police tracking her every move—she finds the sheik’s descendants and is able to thank them. They warmly welcome her and hold a feast in her honor. Sadly, the region today is being visited by fresh horror that is threatening the lives and livelihoods of her grandfather’s saviors.

Stepan, himself, is compelled to bear witness to all that he saw, even after emigrating to the United States, a land he loved and where he found security and financial success. He remained haunted by memories. Surely his journals helped exorcise them, yet he speaks repeatedly of his experiences to his wife and daughters, including Dawn’s mother Anahid.

But, without the stories and without the diaries, MacKeen’s mother would never have pleaded with her reporter daughter to “tell Baba’s story.” I’m glad that she did.

Traveling to wonderful Oaxaca City

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We spent nine wonderful days in Oaxaca City in the state of Oaxaca in southwest Mexico. Two short, easy flights on United via Houston and we arrived in Oaxaca. The city was walkable, beautiful and there were plenty of interesting day trips to take to nearby craft villages and historical sites. Food was delicious everywhere we went, people friendly and shopping the local markets was a delight. Can’t wait to visit Oaxaca again.

Restaurant review 1618 Seafood Grille

1618 Seafood Grille website homepage
1618 Seafood Grille website homepage

At 1618 Seafood Grille on West Market in Greensboro, I had the best seafood meal ever since moving south. All of the seafood was extremely fresh–which can be a difficult proposition in central North Carolina. We may as well have been at the sea shore.

The bar and dining room atmosphere were both welcoming and cool; the flavors were creative and complex; the service was attentive, if not entertaining.  I can’t wait to make another reservation and return.

scallop appetizer
calamari appetizer
bar area

The menu is a fusion of Asian, Latin America and the South, according to the restaurant’s website, and that certainly seemed to be the case. A friend who is a self-described “flavor purist,” pooh-poohed the meld of flavors that 1618 Seafood Grille serves up, but I enjoyed every bite.

Check out this crazy $12 appetizer, “Duo of tempura shrimp tacos cabbage, sriracha aioli, pico de gallo, arugula, cilantro, and citrus emulsion”

Damien, wait staff member

Or this one, “Calamari tossed with wasabi glaze over red bean salsa, chipotle remoulade, sprouts and fresh basil oil.”


If I were in a wine-drinking mood, the waiter was ready to oblige–he offered some sample tastings that were excellent.

I don’t think you can to wrong at 1618 Seafood Grille and, to top it off, it’s a value. Starters are $5-$14; entrees, $25-$34. Of course, if you’re drinking, the tab will add up–but how to resist a beer that the menu describes as “malty, smooth and caramel”?




PS: I hate Google Blogger and its effing in-page CSS. Time to move over to WordPress, completely.

Not-so-easy bicycle rider!


Beware of gradual inclines!

I pause for breathe on Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway.

It looks level, but it’s not.

My husband and I bought new hybrid bikes at Performance Bicycle on Westover Terrace in Greensboro (good experience/like my new bicycle) several weeks ago and have been in training–to be able to ride up for several miles without falling apart.

Today we rode a portion of the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway.

We sailed briskly along the trail through shady arbors and around Lake Brandt. Then, we reversed to go home and understood just why it had been so easy–an imperceptible downhill slope that was killer on the return ride.

Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series Triad edition kicked off last night


I had a sick meal at the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series last night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Chef John Bobby from Noble’s Grille in Winston and chef Tammy Harper from Belle at the Jones House in Cary “competed” to present the winning dinner at the Benton Convention Center for about 50 dinners and judges. It was the first meal in the series with 13 more forthcoming–including one tonight.

There were six delicious courses, and diners voted for their favorites using a smart phone app to evaluate presentation, aroma, etc., as well as the best use of local North Carolina ingredients. The public can purchase tickets online at the competition’s website.

The theme last night was “greens and grains” and the evening’s ingredient suppliers featured Cold Water Creek Farms grains and Plum Granny Farm greens.

The all-North Carolina event was founded by restauranteur and entrepreneur Jimmy Crippen who was inspired by the Iron Chef competition.

Although I preferred Tammy Harper’s butternut squash soup and corncake with mascarpone cheese dessert best, John Bobby’s entree “crusted Cheshire Farms pork belly” did take the cake. He “won” the night’s competition, but not by much. There really weren’t any losers last night.


Chef Tammy Harper’s butternut squash soup
Chef John Bobby’s veal tenderloin with chorizo


John Bobby’s pork belly with gnocchi
Tammy Harper’s grilled lamb chop with polenta


John Bobby’s passion fruit mousse


Tammy Harper’s corn cake Napoleon

Lost Cause: Friendly Avenue & Hobbs, No Commercial Rezoning


News and Record ad opposing Hobbs and Friendly rezoning
The Lawsons’ ad in Sunday’s News & Record,

“Preserve our residential neighborhoods”

The Greensboro City Council will consider the commercial rezoning for the residential parcel at the corner of Hobbs & Friendly tomorrow:

Tuesday, May 19


Council chambers

Governmental Plaza

300 W. Washington St./2nd fl.

It’s open to the public. Please attend and arrive early 4:45PM-5PM to get a seat in council chambers.

In the News & Record May 17, Donna and George Lawson bought a full page ad with the headline “Preserve our residential neighborhoods–A message to fellow concerned residents of Greensboro, the Greensboro City Council and Halpern Enterprises, Atlanta, Ga.”

Thank you, Donna and George!

These are some of the points their advertisement made:

We are very concerned about the destruction of one of our beloved city’s most beautiful residential corridors, the wasteful construciton of a bank and grocery where they are not needed, the domino effect of a rezoning, traffic and pedestrian safety …

The area surrounding the Friendly Shopping Center for miles is one of the city’s most beautiful and should not be sacrificed to the desires of developers who want to up up unneeded and unwanted strip malls for their own enrichment. … Every quadrant of our city is currently pockmarked by empty store fronts in small shopping malls.

Destruction of the Friendly residential corridor, yet another grocery, drug store or bank, is not needed at that location. The purpose of the proposed development at Hobbs and Friendly is not really provide nearby access to shopping. That access exists now within over two million square feet of retail space at Friendly Shopping Center/The Shops at Friendly. The proposed development is intended to accommodate a handful of property owners and an outside developer and its lawyer. … The owners of those six lots assumed market rish when buying and holding real estate and do not deserve special treatment, especially since tey appear to have deliberately neglected their property in an effort to make it appear underutilized.

… The proposed commercial development is nothing more than a standalone glorified strip mall, something that does not belong in that location …

Domino effect: (rezoning) will set the stage for development of the property at the southwest corner of Friendly and Holden, for the property across from Friendly Shopping Center on the south side of Friendly Avenue, adn for the land along the east side of Hobbs. We believe there is a very real possibility that the Lutheran Church (the church has moved once before) will one day receive an offer for its property that its members can’t refuse. The church’s property also fronts on Holden Road just north of the Holden Office Building. It is a large piece of property, which if developed could make Holden Road the target of even more commercial development. …

The Starmount Corp. showed tremendous farsightedness many years ago when it developed our community, striking a sensible balance between beautiful, viable residential neighborhoods and a commercial center that provided necessary retail services. … We sincerely hope that the legacy of this City Council will not be that it made short-sighted decsions by succumbing to the pressure of a small cadre of commercial developers … ushering in the destruction of what makes Greensboro such a wonderful city in which to live.

Traffic and pedestrian safety: (Fuggedaboutit) … the traffic study performed by the firm in Winston-Salem was preposterous. … This is a very bad plan, not only for area residents, but for all commuters going east/west on Friend Avenue.

… (Zoning) commissioners bombarded us with the mantra ‘highest and best use’ as if they were a flock of trained parrots instead of a task force appointed by the City Council to provide a service to the citizens of Greensboro. … The insinuation has been that it is inevitable that the property will be developed commercially. It is as if every piece of land in the entire city is seen as a target for commercial rezoning. …

In addition to asking you to vote to deny changing the zoning designation of the six parcels of land at the corner of Friendly and Hobbs, we ask that you support changes to the Zoning Commission to create a task force with greater diversity of occupations, instead of a group composed almost entirely of developers and realtors. Greensboro deserves better than that. …