BMW E28 M5 Cassette Radio Repair

One of my hobbies in my twenties was car audio. I wasn’t that interested in teeth-rattling bass, but more high-fidelity Natalie Merchant (don’t judge me). For a few of my more recent cars, I would go through the process of collecting somewhat period-correct car audiophile gear from my favorite brand of the time, a/d/s.

The M5 was no exception, but it is the least ideal car to have a nice sound system. The kick panels have no room for decent mid-woofers and I wasn’t going to cut metal. I did the best I could and put in a great-sounding system despite the challenges. There was a big sub on the floor of the backseat, over which the kids had to climb and on which they had to rest their feet. “What is this, Dad???”

Since then, I’ve grappled with modifying the car to make it cooler (e.g., euro bumpers and lights) vs. making it more stock and reversing the mods that were on it. This started with sourcing an OEM exhaust, which wasn’t easy, to replace the loud aftermarket system that came with the car. After that, I decided to embark on getting the whole thing back to stock, thus I ripped out all my hard work on the stereo.

One piece that was hard to track down was a good-condition OEM head unit (a Pioneer KE-81 ZBM-02, if you must know). Like most 30-year-old unicorn parts, I found one on eBay. It came with the code and mostly worked when I hooked it up. I used some DeoxIT to clean up the rheostat and it did wonders to get rid of the static when adjusting the volume. The one problem I had was that I needed to test the cassette, but even I, a self-admitted packrat, had long discarded all of mine.

So, I got back on eBay and purchased the only album that matters. When it arrived and I went to put it in, it just wouldn’t load. Brute force did not seem prudent, so I just left it alone. One morning a couple weeks later, I received an eBay notification (I get many) for a belt kit for this very radio. This serendipity was going to solve all my problems (fingers crossed). It arrived in a hand-written letter envelope shortly thereafter.

I admit that I Googled “car radio repair” a couple times, but I found a web page with some critical information and decided this was a DIY job. I took it apart and sure enough, all of the belts had disintegrated into a gooey tar-like mess. After cleaning up all the parts and putting on the new belts, it was time for the moment of truth…

The M5 is blasting music like it’s 1988 again.

Spring Break 2017 in Los Angeles

After a lot of skiing this winter, we decided to road trip to Los Angeles for spring break. The main motivation was because Grace was convinced her mom was turning 75 and wanted to have a surprise party for her. Then Addy and Charles changed their plans to meet us in LA, and Dave came down, too.

We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Westwood. We were going to go to Santa Monica, but decided to go to Century City for dinner instead. While there, we decided to see a movie. The nice thing about taking your kids to a 9:30pm movie is that no other parents bring their kids to a 9:30pm movie. I stayed awake for all of Boss Baby. They loved it.

When Grace was planning her mom’s dinner, she mentioned it was going to be on April 9th. Ummm, that’s our anniversary… No matter – it’s her 75th! We celebrated our anniversary at lunch instead with the kids at Bouchon. Lucas was very leery of French food, but found the donuts to his liking. We did some shopping for Grace’s mom in the afternoon.

The kids wanted to visit with Emme and Elsen before dinner even though we didn’t have much time. I took the opportunity to catch up very briefly with my long lost friend from home, Joanne, who also lives in Santa Monica. Our visit was too short, but still long overdue. So great to see her and meet her sons.

Sometime before all the family arrived at the restaurant for Grace’s mom’s surprise, we determined that it was actually her 76th birthday. Surprise! She deserved a big party anyway, so it was all good. Awesome to see all the Park cousins.

On Monday, we met up with the family at République in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful building, which used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate. When I got there, I looked up and saw someone familiar. My instinct was to say hello and his instinct was to say hello back. It was Henry Winkler. Who is more familiar than the Fonz? That was one of the highlights of my trip year.

Grace went with her mom and sister to the spa, so I took the kids to the Grove to get out of the house (i.e., off their devices). We went to a real book store, which had real books (each kid got 2). We had more donuts, ice cream, and people-watching. Afterwards, we went to Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little early.

On Tuesday, we went to Universal Studios, which was the 2nd big reason for our LA spring break: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ann and Emme joined us (Elsen had no idea what he was missing). The kids have been wanting to do this for a while and were so excited. I had no idea about the rides, but we all (adults) got so wrecked by the Forbidden Journey. I took more than one for the team and rode that one twice (worse the 2nd time because it broke down the first time and I didn’t have to suffer through Quidditch). By the time we got on the Minions ride, I learned to just keep my eyes closed the entire time. I’m still sick.

Everyone enjoyed the studio tour. Seeing animatronic Jaws made the kids feel a little better about sharks after I screened Jaws for them a few weeks ago. We were all traumatized by it when we were kids; I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be, too.

Wednesday was a very routine beach day in Manhattan Beach. By routine, I mean lunch at Rock’n Fish, beach, Starbuck’s, and the Creamery. Every. Single. Time. That evening we had dinner with Ann and Jeremy at Katsuya in Brentwood.

Thursday, we had lunch with Grace’s parents in Westwood after I upgraded them from 0 MB DSL service, which was killing me, but was the only thing instilling grit in the kids on this trip. We walked to the other end of Westwood and back and then loaded up the car to drive home.

My spring break officially started on Friday with the first round of golf in a long while with Charles and Albert in Half Moon Bay. We spend the rest of the weekend with Addy and Charles, who left early on Sunday. Our nice break ended with Easter brunch at the Crowthers’ and dinner with Jeanah and Christine at our house.

Cousins Rylee and Harrison Visit

Our awesome niece (cousin, once-removed), Rylee, just got into Berkeley. Her family changed their Spring Break plans last minute to come to the Bay Area to see the campus. They’ve hosted us so many times during our Michigan Hur reunions that we really wanted to have them over.

It was great seeing Young Joo, Il, Harrison and Rylee during their brief visit. Olivia and Lucas always love seeing their cousins.

Rhonda, Ky and Malia Visit from Seattle

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Vu clan. They’ve been busy traveling the world with Malia. Ky had a conference in SF and brought the family a couple weeks ago and we’re thankful they decided to stay with us for a couple days. It’s also been a while since we’ve seen the Kellogg gang, so we had everyone over for dinner on Friday, March 31st.

Esther, Jon and Ellie were the first to arrive. Esther is a trouper as she’s about to drop anchor on baby Cho #2. Natalie hauled all the way from Marin, but the boys had fevers so they and Noah stayed home. Likewise, Amanda wasn’t well, so only Ben and Matthew were able to make it (missed you, Dora). The Rantas get the award for living the closest but seeing us the least (need to fix that). Erich, Dali, Tony and Allison rounded out the crew.

The kids had a great time with Malia and hope she and her parents come to visit again soon.

Spring Skiing in Tahoe with Kimuras and Lees

We’ve been trying to get to Tahoe with the Kimuras and Lees for a few years now. This year, we finally made it happen. We rented a great house in Northstar last weekend, which was perfect for all the families. The Lees were only planning to ski one day, and unfortunately their Olivia stubbed her toe in the morning and fractured it! Bummer.

We had some great home-cooked meals thanks to Torsten and Grace. We had some fresh snow and generally very spring-like conditions. The kids just don’t care and I was pleased they were eager to go down the hardest trail (for Northstar). Lucas might have bitten off more than he could chew, but he made it without complaint.

Next year, I think we’re going to try to go somewhere out of state. Wherever we end up, it will be fun with this crew.

Birthday Dinner at Madera

Grace and I celebrated another trip around the sun together on our joint birthday. The kids and I met Grace at the Rosewood on Sand Hill for dinner at Madera. The food was delicious and the service was even better. It was all topped off with a beautiful sunset and dessert. We’ll definitely go back.

Happy Birthday to Grace (and me)!

Colorado Ski Trip with WB Guys

After missing our annual ski trip last year, the WB guys reconvened in Colorado last weekend. This was the first time we’ve been to Colorado together since Chris was living there a couple decades ago. We’ve been going to Utah for several years. Steve graciously hosted us in a couple of his timeshare units in Beaver Creek.

We’ve been asking Nick to join us for years and he’s always politely declined. This year, I conspired with an influential person (Melanie), who surprised him with a plane ticket to join us over his birthday weekend (surprise!). Both of us were a little worried about the fallout, but he was a good sport about it.

I think Nick’s hesitation might have come from the misunderstanding that this was a hard-core ski trip. It didn’t take him long to realize the truth about old-man skiing is that the entire trip is planned around eating. Each day, we get up later and later and go to bed earlier and earlier. The trip is measured in calories vs. vertical feet.

On Thursday night when we got in, we headed over to Vail for dinner at La Bottega. Friday, we skied over at Vail in very Spring-like conditions. Friday was also Nick’s birthday. To celebrate, we had an amazing dinner together at Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek. I’ve been wanting to go there for a while, but we were never able to get in on our family trips. Melanie very thoughtfully arranged for some champagne and appetizers and every person in the restaurant seemed to know it was Nick’s birthday. The evening (and possibly the trip) culminated when the resident musician came over with his accordion to lead a rousing “Happy Birthday” to Nick. All this was topped off with bread pudding for dessert.

One other thing that Nick and Chris might not have bargained for was the Big 10 basketball tournament. Every day, lunch was planned around catching the end of the Michigan basketball game, which really meant the 2nd half (and sometimes included half time). They were good sports and cheered along with us Wolverines as we won every game including the championship.

We all skied Beaver Creek together on Saturday, followed by dinner at Maya at the Westin where we usually stay. Nick and Herb were both leaving on Sunday morning, so the rest of us didn’t get on the mountain until close to noon. Monday was the only day we got up early. Steve, Scott and I were there as the lifts opened as Chris had to work.

Everyone really seemed to enjoy Beaver Creek, so I expect we’ll return again. There’s already talk about going back to Whistler, where this trip all began over 10 years ago. I don’t think it matters much where we go as it’s always a good time, with good food and great friends. Until next time, fellas.

Ski Week in Tahoe with Moons and Uncle Dave

The last couple of ski weeks, we went to Colorado in search of snow. However, this year’s wet weather gave us more confidence that Tahoe would work out and we got even more than we bargained for. We rented a house with the Moons in Martis Camp. Their brother, Ed, joined us and then Dave came up for the second half of the week. We ran into friends from home and school, including Mrs. Zirelli, who was both kids’ first grade teacher, and Mrs. Lawson, Olivia’s teacher this year.

We arrived on Saturday just as a storm was coming in. It started snowing and basically didn’t stop for the week we were there. The first couple days it was dumping heavy, wet snow. It cooled down after that and the snow turned light and powdery. It was the most powder I’ve skied just about anywhere. The first day was a little tough for Olivia and Lucas, but when the snow lightened up, they got the hang of it.

We skied six days straight, which is a record for us. By the end of the week, Olivia was crushing some legit black diamonds and skiing the glades. On the last couple days, Lucas also opted for some real black diamonds. He struggled a bit with a full steep mogul run, but got back on his fast groomer and skied about a third of his last run through the glades.

Grace cooked a lot during the week, so we only made it into the village on the last night. Everyone was pretty tired, but Lucas got hooked on Settlers of Catan and really wanted to play. He stayed up until 12:15am to crush me and was quite pleased with his domination (with Grace). We had a great time together with our friends and look forward to our next adventure together.