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Nine out of Ten

Eight years ago, I lived in a house that we called Project Hollywood. A group of the four best pickup artists in the world-- and me-- rented out Dean Martin's old house on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. This was a big deal in the pickup community, and it spawned clones all over the world. One such copycat was Project San Francisco, six hours away from LA. Mystery and I drove up there one day to check it out.

We were both immediately stunned with how well Project San Francisco was run. We were shown to our guest beds, given guest sets of keys, and guest towels. The whole house was clean and well organized. Our house, on the other hand, was chaotic. It was usually a mess and no one really took responsibility for anything beyond their own bedrooms. Generally it was only clean if someone had a girl coming over that he wanted to impress-- and then he cleaned it himself.

The tour through the house continued, and I commented on how clean everything was. In response, I heard the magic words: "Yeah, we try to keep it a nine out of ten at all times".

What an idea! Who would ever admit that they tried to complete something only to ninety percent? Eight years later, I'm still in love with the idea of nine out of ten.

My job is to hold the flashlight

On Mike Dariano

My job is mostly to hold the flashlight. Sometimes I'll cut things - mostly straight -and I'll do a lot of holding of things. My name is Mike, and I can't fix much of anything.

This is may not be entirely true. I might have an average fixing ability but both my father and father-in-law are engineers so it seems like they've fixed everything. They also come from a generation that seems like it's able to do things. To fix things and make them better. To know how to ground an electrical wire, hang a ceiling fan, change belts on cars. That's what these guy do, it's what they've always done.

What I've always done is listen to music. A few days ago the Eve 6 song Inside Out came on the radio and I did what any other person my age would do. I turned it up (while quickly trying to think if there were any parts of the song that were inappropriate for the kids in the back seat). Inside Out was released in 1998 and isn't a very good song. It's a good representation of songs that were out in 1998 but it would be considered about average. I wasn't average though, I was 16 and in the prime years of building the library of songs I liked.

Metallica, Hunger, Eve 6, CCR, Springsteen. These were the bands that I was growing to love because I was able to drive and listen to the radio as loudly as I wanted. Fast forward to 2004 or rewind to 1992 and none of the song equivalents to Inside Out would get me to pause while channel surfing the radio. 1997-2004 were my music building years where I cataloged my favorite songs. I can develop new favorites - John Prine's Paradise is a recent example - but I don't add to my list often.

In my teens and earlier twenties I developed a taste for music, in my late twenties and thirties I built my fix it library. Inch by inch and mistake my mistake I'm slowly learning all the things my fathers know because that's how they did it. My paternal grandfather was another engineer, running his own construction company and my father in-law's father put on countless roofs and fixed countless homes. For both of these men their chief helpers were their oldest children - my fathers. They spent longer crafting their abilities to fix things but for as wizardly as they are they, they were still novices once.

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