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Ten Years - Saturday, April 30, 2022
This week Priscilla and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. We've been through a lot during this time - she left her home in LA and relocated to the Bay Area to be with me, we got an apartment, I changed jobs once, she changed jobs more than once, we bought a house, had several renters over a six-year period, we've served on the worship team at church, been in small groups, seen friends come and go, gone on walks almost every day, done lots of hiking, and we've traveled to many places across the state, country and world. It simultaneously feels like hardly any time has passed and also like a meaningful ten years have passed. We've made plenty of mistakes and this isn't the best life that we could be living by far, but I'm content. And there's no one I'd rather have spent this ten years with.

This week we were down in LA to celebrate our anniversary and to be with family. It was also my mom's birthday, so all the more reason for family to get together. We spent the first three nights at my parents' place and the latter two nights at Priscilla's parents' place. We saw Aaron and Lauren and the kids twice and got to see their new house, and our niece actually talked to me a good deal this time. The time with family was pretty low-key as always, but we enjoy the normalcy.

The rest of our time was spent in Hollywood! We went there three days in a row - for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, then to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once (it was interesting but really weird) at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and finally to go to Universal Studios. We'd bought the Go City LA pass and chose those activities. Originally we had wanted to do Catalina Island as one of the activities, but the ferry hours were pretty inconvenient (7am arrival and 4pm departure). And when we bought the pass, the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens was available as one of the activities, but at some point it was dropped and only remained available with the more expensive pass. So we scrapped Huntington from our plans and replaced it with seeing a movie at Grauman's. The expression about best-laid plans is all too fitting in today's day of rampant inflation and skimpflation.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour was cool. Our guide was very knowledgeable and drove us through the campus and pointed out building after another that was used in the filming of some show or movie. We got to see different sets for a TV show in one of the sound stages. I couldn't place most of the things the guide pointed out because my familiarity with TV and film is limited, but I appreciated seeing all the work that goes into set design to the finest detail. The tour ended with a self-guided portion through DC and Harry Potter exhibits; most of that was kinda meh, but I really liked this one display that uses forced perspective to make it look like Hogwarts letters are swirling all around you, where the attendant used our phone to take an awesome-looking picture.

Universal Studios doesn't have as much stuff as Disneyland, so we had time to do all the rides and see both of the shows. It brought back some memories of the times when my mom would bring me and my brother there. I guess the last time I went there was in 2004 when I brought my grandfather there. A bunch of things have changed noticeably, like Jurassic Park now being Jurassic World with some technological upgrades, Back to the Future replaced by The Simpsons, no more Backdraft, and the Backlot Tour now branded as the Studio Tour including two attractions requiring 3D glasses. The two shows running were Universal's Animal Actors and WaterWorld (there's also the Special Effects Stage show, but that wasn't operating on the day of our visit). The execution of both shows was great, though the trainers in Animal Actors had occasional difficulty getting the animals (mostly the dogs) to obey commands on the first try. It's gotta be a hard job. And the stunts and effects in WaterWorld were spectacular - this was probably the only attraction that I enjoyed as much as an adult as I did as a kid. Overall, Universal was fun, but the motion sickness I now get on thrill rides mars the experience, and I've for the most part outgrown the desire to go to theme parks. Priscilla probably would not mind still going every now and then.

Last week, I was working hard to get new sprinkler valves installed for the front lawn. Our irrigation system didn't have a manual shutoff, so I had to have the city shut off the main so that I could install a manual shutoff valve. Then I had to replace the old, leaking sprinkler valves. The task was difficult because the pipes were installed almost right next to each other and at weird angles, so I had to rework the design with very little clearance. There were also tree roots growing everywhere. I also discovered a sprinkler head next to the valves, buried under landscaping fabric, which meant that that area got a good soaking every time the sprinklers came on (that might explain all the roots). I had wanted to put in PVC and drip irrigation in the back before our trip so that our backyard plants wouldn't die, but I ended up only being able to finish the front and had a neighbor water the back while we were away. But at least the hard part is done and I can work on the back at my leisure (well, we're going to LA for a few days in July, so I guess that's my new deadline).

So overall, we didn't do anything really special to celebrate, but we're fine with that. The traditional gifts for the 10th year anniversary are aluminum and tin symbolizing the strength and resilience of the marriage, and while we don't really give each other gifts for special occasions, one can say that our marriage is just as comfortably boring, and just as dependable, as those metals.
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