mjgradziel michael j gradziel

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I started posting things here in 1999, when the word "blog" was unknown to almost everybody. This is not a blog, not if you think of blogs as commentary about likes and links and current things. This is just a small piece of my story that I want to share with friends and family and anyone else who wants to read it. I only write every few weeks. The page is mostly about sharing pictures; when I write, it is usually to describe the scenes in photographs. I take photos because it is satisfying to have people share my point of view. I like being able to communicate in an instant how it was. Of course there is more to the story than what appears in my favorite photos, so let me make the beginnings of an introduction.

Home for me is two places: a rural swath of western Massachusetts where I spent the first half of my life, and also the San Francisco Bay Area where my wife and I live now on a quiet tree-lined street close to the vibrant neighborhoods of the city, the wave-pounded coast and foggy redwood forests, the sun drenched central valley, idyllic California beach towns, and snowy high peaks. It's beautiful here, though I still miss the forests and hills back East, but even more satisfying is being among so many inspiring people who make the Bay Area their base for starting companies, trying out new ideas, and doing interesting things.

I've built a career designing precision machinery, drawing from my background in mechanical engineering. I spend most of my time in the engineer's world, that is, with men and computers in un-glamorous office buildings, working mostly alone which I prefer in the interest of speed and completeness. I work at an office because it puts me in the company of accomplished engineers from whom I can learn (and it pays well too) but personally I would rather be tinkering in a shop or building things. Where I work, engineers aren't supposed to use the shop tools.

Making up for this deprivation at work I do all sorts of projects myself at home, things involving carpentry, concrete and metal work, electrical wiring, plumbing, plastering, painting, building fine furniture, working the land to grow things, and employing all my favorite kitchen tools at mealtimes. I am stubbornly a do-it-yourself kind of person, except with cars. Actually, I drive a truck.

Philosophically, I avoid waste. I mean that broadly. I like quality things that last a long time and I like sustainability. That does not mean conservation, but rather, evolution, whether we are talking about water resources, historic buildings, endangered species, or the church. The ice caps are melting, folks, and asphalt and semiconductors will some day erase ethnicity and rituals from the era of tribes and books. I'd like to think we are moving in that direction already. I hold that the world is ancient, the universe is vast, and each particle of matter is empowered to create. So arise snowflakes, galaxies, and emperor penguins. I like green tech when it pollutes the planet less and I prefer to see effort going toward changing people to better adapt to climate change, rather than trying to stop change. I like pesticide-free food when that lets farms improve the land and let the birds and the bugs be their part of the ecosystem, but a thousand acres of potatoes can support a terrifically unnatural population of beetles and we can't let that happen nor can we let people be hungry. And folks, "organic" does not mean that farmers don't spray toxic things on their crops to kill bugs and weeds good and bad. Know what you're buying, and have a good reason for it. I am all about protecting species and preserving rainforest yet I have been to places where I myself would have felled the trees to feed my family had I been living like the local people did. There is always a way to harvest sustainably. Protecting biodiversity starts at home. What do you buy? How diverse is your back yard or neighborhood park?

I support open governance by popular majority, the right to choose things for one's self, and our right to defend our home with whatever expensive and destructive technology we find necessary to keep what is ours. Do you lock the doors on your house? Then support our military. It might not always be popular, but policy, not the institution, is responsible for this. Take your energy, get out and lobby, and vote on that policy.

I think that just about covers the popular social issues of the moment. Most of the time you wouldn't find me embroiled in debate over any of these; I lead a tame life of seeking out special foods, building things, and spending time with family and friends. I mostly read nonfiction, hardly ever watch television, and listen to classic rock and once in a while, classical or country. I usually cook european-style foods, and I go out for things like Asian, Mexican, or Indian cuisine. I enjoy a wide range of domestic microbrew beers and local wines, but when it comes to mixed drinks I am pretty happy with bourbon. When I'm not wearing a collared shirt and slacks at the office I prefer flip flops, jeans, and knit cotton shirts. The only expensive items of clothing I own are few suits that I need for events and meetings a few times a year.

Enough about me. Enjoy the site!

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