2017 Carey Graduation

Olivia and the other 4th graders had a role in the graduation ceremony at school, so I attended along with Lucas. It was my first time. The 5th grade class selected a couple kids to speak on behalf of all of them. A faculty member spoke about each child and each child was given a chance to speak.

I was blown away by all of their reflection, gratitude and optimism for the future. It is indeed bittersweet leaving the safe confines of a school and place you love. Best wishes to all of them on their journey ahead.

5th Annual Carey Dad’s BBQ

On Sunday, June 5th, about 30 Carey dads joined us for our 5th annual pay-to-play fundraiser for the school. Some things were dialed up a notch, including Adam’s beautiful new beef brisket. Justin needed three grills to cook his amazing pork ribs (his Weber and two BGEs – thanks, Posse). Grace again did almost all the work on our end. She had to fly to Singapore the night before and crushed as much as she could before she left. My mom gets the assist for finishing the sides day-of. I did personally massage each piece of Korean Kalbi, so I’m not completely useless.

Thanks, everyone, for another great event. We still have a few more good years in us. Until next year.

U2 – The Joshua Tree – Thirty Years Later

I’ve seen and posted a few times about U2 and it’s no secret they’re my favorite band. The Joshua Tree happens to be my favorite album and concert, so when they announced this tour, I was very excited. I loved our GA tickets for the last tour, but I feared Grace wouldn’t be up for it again, so I just got us seats with the other adults.

I had two extra seats, which I pretty much couldn’t give away. As a backup, I considered taking the kids. My thinking was that Bono turned 57 this week and if and when Olivia and Lucas wanted to see U2 when they were adults, well, you can do the math. I quizzed them on a couple U2 songs and Joshua Tree and they failed miserably, so the show would have been lost on them. Grace and I made a date night out of it.

It’s pointless to debate what album is their best. For me, The Joshua Tree isn’t so much about the music (which I still think is among their best), but more about a time and place. I’m sure music is like that for a lot of people.

On April 30, 1987 (almost exactly 30 years ago), I went to the original Joshua Tree concert at the Pontiac Silverdome with my best friends. To be exact, J.C.’s dad, Jack, and Chris’s dad, Al, took J.C., Chris, Nick, Mike, Steve and me to the concert, which we enjoyed from a box. Earlier our junior year, J.C. was diagnosed with cancer, and a result, lost his leg followed by his beautiful hair (which the girls had loved since 6th grade – feathered, of course). As such, watching from the box was more out of practicality than privilege.

Looking back, I feel those dads wanted us to experience this together as the future at that time was so uncertain. A little over a year later, J.C. passed away, which was the biggest loss I had experienced in my short, sheltered life. Now thirty years later, Jack, Al (an important figure from my childhood) and even the Silverdome are gone. But, I feel fortunate that these guys are still among my closest friends and that night remains one of my most cherished memories.

This blog is a testament to the fact that I’m the most nostalgic person you’ve ever met. Part of that is because like memories, some of our most important people exist only in the past. This blog is also mostly for Olivia and Lucas. They know their uncles Chris, Nick, Mike and Steve very well, but only know a little about J.C. If they wonder why The Joshua Tree is my favorite album, when they read this, hopefully they’ll understand why.

Thanks to Chris, who sent me a copy of our concert photo.

Mother’s Day in Napa and Tiburon

We spent our 7th Mother’s Day with the Moons yesterday in Napa. Brunch was at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. The chicken and waffles were amazing.

We went to the park for a bit. The benefit of brunching with a professional photographer is that we get one good family photo every several years. Thank you, Clara!

Clara and Grace went to the spa at Bardessono. Mike and I took the kids back to their house in Tiburon, took the kids to town for sugar, and then terrorized the park in Belvedere. We had Pho for dinner before heading home over our 3rd Bay Area bridge of the day.

Happy Mother’s Day to Grace, Clara, and all our moms!

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.